To regret something means that we should have known better and done something different. Surely everyone has regrets. Some of them can be so painful that we don’t want to go there, or we deal with it, and it’s something we can’t dwell on if we’re to remain Christian. But such matters can involve consequences that call it to mind. Other matters we can continue to be hammered on, because they can involve something which seems threatening to us, or has consequences to this day on a different, what people might call more practical level.
Paul’s well known words most people would pull out at first blush seem appropriate, then on further thought not, but when all is said and done, I think these words can help us:
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh.For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
I know, I know. There are things after the time we put our faith in Christ that we might well regret. Both commissions, as well as omissions. And rightfully so. I’m not so sure it’s wrong to regret; it can’t be regarding certain matters.
But what Paul is getting at here is our mindset, the one thing we do. And what he is pressing toward, as if a runner, involves all in the Christian life given to us in Jesus to which we’re both to aspire to and begin to live out.
Paul’s past was of the flesh, even though it seemed so good to him and to many others at the time. Whatever is of the flesh is what we leave behind. We live in the new way of the Spirit, of God’s calling, yes his heavenward calling to us in Jesus.
Are we going to get everything right through being committed and following through in the pursuit of this call? Of course not. It is both an individual and group endeavor focused on a Person, the Person of Christ. We will fail along the way, and will have to keep applying this truth of forgetting what is behind, and pressing forward. In the large and the small. Day after day, whatever the kind of day we face, whether a work day, a day of rest, or of relaxation and fun. We continue on toward the mark that God has set for us in and through Jesus.