Grief covers a wide range of emotion. At one extreme is a debilitating sadness. This is usually the result of great personal loss. At the other extreme is mild aggravation. Have you as a parent ever said, “My children have given me nothing but grief today”? As an emotion grief is usually a response to something unexpected, something outside of our control. Sometimes grief is the direct result of our own actions. The consequence of sin is always loss. We grieve because of the loss, and we regret the behavior that precipitated the loss. Regret is the sadness we feel because of what we have done. Remember Peter and his denial. “And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:73-75 NKJV) Peter experienced deep regret.
We all can relate to Peter. Who among us has not said something that we later regretted? Some of us may better relate to Paul. We know what we should be doing but put up a terrific fight before conceding. Just like Paul, we hurt ourselves and others in the process. “Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”” (Acts 9:5b NKJV) This same man serves of an example of God’s amazing and transformative grace. “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.” (1 Timothy 1:12-16 NKJV)
The best way to avoid regret is to avoid sin. Avoiding sin prevents harm. Sinning not only hurts yourself and others, sinning also hurts the Holy Spirit. “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32 NKJV)