There is a regret that wraps itself around you like a mink stole. It may be something that happened that was beyond your control. It may have been within your control, but you couldn’t understand the implications of the choices that you made.
It may be something that you have fought and haven’t been able to overcome. Like a little fury lifeless head with glassy eyes, and a long, silky tale, it rests on your shoulders, and never lets you forget that you aren’t who you want to be. You may even hide sometimes, because you feel so badly around other people. This is shame, and it is not from our loving Father.
The Holy Spirit convicts us, and when we repent, He forgives us. Sometimes we have restitution to make. He leads us accordingly. When this is done, we may have some pieces to pick up, and restoration may take time, but lingering guilt, regret and shame are tools of the enemy. We may not understand that we are clean. Scripture says that we are “washed by the blood of the Lamb” (see Revelation 7:14).
Lingering guilt, regret and shame are tools of the enemy.
Forgiveness can be difficult. There is no shortage of sermons that urge and remind us to truly forgive. We usually hear these from the stance of the person who has not yet forgiven and we are urged to forgive. What we rarely hear, in fact, may never have heard, is how hard it is to be the one who is unforgiven. Jesus is looking out for the unforgiven.
There is power in forgiveness because it releases us in the spiritual realm. Forgiveness takes down an invisible wall between the forgiver and the forgiven. It leaves a place that can be filled with the fruit of the Spirit. Restoration can happen. When we don’t forgive or are unforgiven, the enemy, opportunist that he is, can wreak havoc on what remains good in the relationship. Both parties are vulnerable to further hurt. True forgiveness frees both parties.
We may never have heard how hard it is to be the one who is unforgiven. Jesus is looking out for the unforgiven.
Does another person’s lack of heartfelt forgiveness condemn us and leave us in prison to our mistakes? While we may still have to deal with their negativity toward us, it does not. Jesus is the ultimate judge and our sin was paid for by His death on the cross.
The Holy Spirit, however, can work in our lives, regardless of the other person’s difficulties in truly forgiving us. We need to forgive ourselves and ask Him to help us to walk in freedom. We must also beware that we don't harbor resentment toward the other person. By bringing the situation to the Lord in prayer, He promises to work on our behalf. He is our constant advocate.
We are forgiven because of the high price that Jesus paid. To see ourselves as still guilty is to deny that He paid for our sin.
Paul explains this in Romans 8:34. He says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Jesus is so forgiving, so generous and gracious that He intercedes for us. He cares deeply that we prosper. His prayers bless our walking forward in freedom for Him.
Paul is speaking to the person who is repentant and probably struggling with accepting freedom and forgiveness.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.”
It is our responsibility to shake off shame…Refuse to play Satan's game and reject his lies.
There are other times when our shame is caused by what we haven't done. We may be ashamed because we believe we have failed, or don’t measure up to what the world says we should be. We may have become believers later in life and have left pain in our tracks. This condemnation comes from the accuser’s lies, too. Isaiah 54:4 says,
“Do not be afraid; you will not be put to shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
You will forget the shame of your youth
and remember no more the reproach of your widowhood.”
"I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten-- the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm -- my great army that I sent among you.”
We must never be ashamed of who we are and what we have or haven’t done. God will use all of it for His glory. He is a God who does not disappoint. Romans 5:5 says, "And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." God encourages us to have hope! Hope does not put us to shame!
Regret is replaced by restoration in God’s Kingdom.
Accept who you are. He certainly accepts you! Jesus loves you completely. John 3:16 is a universally favorite verse because it tells us how much “God so loved the world.” Psalm 3:3 is a beautiful picture of His love for us: “But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.” Lift your head high! You are a beloved child of the King, and His love for you is unconditional.