Published November 27, 2012

Paul's Epistle...
"Choices & Regrets"

Have you ever done anything you've lived to regret?

Of course you have. We all have. Perhaps it was a word spoken in haste that couldn't be recalled. Or perhaps it was an choice that really messed up your life.

One of the first things our parents try to teach us is that choices have consequences. "Hit your sister again and there's no ice cream for you for a week!" That type of thing. But something within us rebels at learning that simple lesson. We want to do it our own way.

Adam and Eve in the Garden disobeyed God. God had warned that there would be consequences if they disobeyed, but they did anyway. As a result, sin came into the world, they lost their daily face-to-face walk with God and the world came under God's curse. Choices have consequences.

Abraham became impatient with God and, through Sarah's maidservant, fathered Ishmael. God later provided Abraham and Sarah with their own son, Isaac, the son of promise. But as a result of Abraham's impatience, two great nations sprang from Abraham, and the Jews and the Arabs have been at odds with each other to this day. Choices have consequences.

Remember the "hippies" in the 60s? Their mantra was, "If it feels good, do it." But their choices resulted in severe drug addictions, disease, immorality and death. Even today, according to a recent Barna study, 44 percent of American adults say they base their moral decisions on whatever would bring them the most pleasing or satisfying results. Only 24 percent lean primarily upon religious principles or teachings for such decisions.

Choices have consequences. Just ask the politician whose career was ruined when sordid details of his personal life were disclosed. Ask the smoker dying of lung cancer in the oncology ward. Ask the man whose single incident of adultery cost him the family he loved. Ask the drunk whose driving snuffed out the lives of innocent others. You can never say, "Just this once..." As the Bible says, "be sure your sin will find you out." (Numbers 32:23.)

Today, we hear a lot about "choice." In fact, the whole pro-abortion movement has adopted "freedom of choice" as their battle cry. But if we choose to disobey God's rules, can we escape the consequences? Recently, rallies were held in every state by women who regret having abortions. Carol Everett, president of a pregnancy resource center in Texas, says some studies indicate as high as 94 percent of women who undergo abortions have problems – physical or emotional – as a result.

Here's the good news: The sinful choices we make in this life can be forgiven by God. His forgiveness, if we sincerely ask for it, is complete. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9.) And the effect for eternity is the same as if you've never sinned at all! The sins of a Christian are covered by Christ's shed blood.

But that's the eternal part. In this life, even forgiven sins have an impact. The wound may heal, but the scar remains. There is shame, there is regret that never totally goes away. Things are never quite the same even though we know our sins are forgiven. Unlike a perfect God who can forgive perfectly, our human imperfection means we forgive ourselves imperfectly. And you can be sure Satan will frequently remind you of your past failings. Pray that God will make His forgiveness so real to you that you can forgive yourself, too.

How do we know how to make wise choices? The Bible says, "Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best." (Psalms 25:12 LB.) Pray that God will help you make the right choices in your life. And pray for your children, too. "Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older he will remain upon it." (Proverbs 22:6 LB.)

Always choose the right path, remembering that choices do, indeed, have consequences -- for better or for worse.

- Paul

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