Looking back and learning from past mistakes can be helpful for our personal growth and development. But sometimes as we look back we can be filled with more regret than lessons.
How can Christians who feel held down by past mistakes start living beyond the bondage of regret?
One thing we need to learn about mistakes is that we all make them. Romans 3:23 reminds us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
We’ve all made mistakes, sinned and failed at one point or another. Not that that’s any reason to condone our mistakes. But it should give us hope that we can and will get past the guilt of past mistakes.
Here are four steps that you can take today if you feel dragged down by regret of past mistakes and want to be free from it.
1. Admit Your Mistakes
The first step to getting past the guilt feelings of our mistakes is to accept that we were at fault and admit that the fault was ours and no one else’s. It’s so easy to blame other people except ourselves. It’s always the fault of the parents who were never there, the society that provoked us or the leaders that did nothing.
But no one is ever completely without fault. We must learn to accept our failings and admit them.
2. Surrender Your Shame to God
Shame falls upon us initially, and sadly it never expires. But the good news is that we can surrender our shame to God and nail it to the cross of Christ. Isaiah 53:4 says, “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” We can surrender our shame to Christ because He bore it on the cross for us all.
3. Allow God to Change You
God’s grace comes not just to pardon us of past sin, but to give us the will and desire to change for the better. One of the reasons why shame is so crippling is because it tells us that there’s a chance it can happen again. But God can and will remove the pain and the presence of sin that causes regrets.
4. Live Out Your New Life in Christ
As we now live as new creations in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17), we must stop living like we’re slaves and start living as sons and daughters. Like the eldest son in the parable of the prodigal son, we sometimes live as if we have to earn God’s favour and grace, but God has given it to us freely because Christ has paid the price in full. We are to now live in freedom as Christ gives us—free from guilt, shame and regret.