What are the Biggest Regrets to Avoid in Life?

An article on the internet by Sarah Crow spoke of the “50 Most Common Regrets People Have in their 50s.” For example, number seven was not traveling more and number twelve: “not attending to my health.” “Worrying about other people’s opinions” came in at number ten.

Looking in the rearview mirror of life at my fifties, I can relate to some of these regrets. In addition to the ones she listed, I regret leaving my phone on silent, because then I cannot find it. I regret teaching my mother about email – I don’t think I will ever get all those postage stamps off my computer screen. In particular I regret after preaching a sermon, leaving the wireless mic on when going to the church bathroom. Not to mention failing to wash my hands before I left the restroom. Thanks to sister Jones for the prompt reminder. Although I still claim I did indeed flush whether or not it could be heard of the speakers.

As one ages, regrets are a common part of maturity. They often begin with “What if I only would have…” or “maybe I could have…” or “I know I should have…” There are some who are in denial like the person who had a large tattoo on their arm saying, “No Regerts.” But they were wrong. They regretted going to a tattoo artist who could not spell.

Many of these regrets are not only common to us all, but the Bible can relate to these missed opportunities. The Scriptures encourage us to “give thanks to the God of heaven! for His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:26). We are to be “giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). This corresponds with regret #34: “being ungrateful.”

Several of the regrets on the list have to do with our treatment of others, such as, “being unkind,” “not apologizing more,” and “not doing more for others.” In Jesus’ parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, He spoke of the rich man’s regrets in how he treated the poor beggar, Lazarus. Abraham in paradise spoke to the rich man who was in torment, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:25-26).

Jesus further warned mankind to be careful about what they say. “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36). Again, in another parable depicting Judgment Day the righteous ask, “‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matt. 25: 37-40).

Solomon encouraged, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’” (Eccl. 12:1). Perhaps this is why the twenty-eighth regret is “not appreciating your youth.” Young people tend to waste opportunities, health, and money doing drugs, drinking, smoking and just being lazy. They need to listen to the wise counsel of their Creator, parents and grandparents.

Singer Tina Turner once shared: “I regret not having had more time with my kids when they were growing up.” Regret number forty is “being inattentive to your kids.” The Bible commands parents to raise their children. “And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Paul also commands older women to “admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children” (Titus 2:4). Parents, do not become grandparents who regret: “I wish I could raise my children all over again.”

“Not telling people you love them” comes in at regret number sixteen. The Bible commands spouses to love each other, parents to love their children, children to love their parents, neighbors to love each other, Christians to love each other, to love God, to love the truth and even to love their enemies. Jesus summed up our obligations to love in Mark chapter twelve: “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

One of the best ways to show one’s love to others is by sharing the Gospel. The Gospel is the Good New that God loved them enough to send Christ to lovingly sacrifice Himself for them. You say “I love you” every time you share the Gospel. The converse is like saying to the lost sinner “I don’t care about your soul; you can go to hell.” Returning to Jesus’ parable of the Rich man and Lazarus. The Rich man had regrets concerning the souls and the eternal welfare of his brothers. He begged Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to the rich man’s five brothers. “‘For I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead’” (Luke 16:27-31). Do not wait till it is too late. Share the Gospel with your loved ones and even your enemies before their, or your, last breath.

Another regret which did not make the article’s list is one’s failure to prepare for death. This not a reference to funeral arrangements or wills. Many will come to the end of their life regretting they never did anything to save their soul. In the article it lists the regrets of “missing out on investment opportunities” or “not saving more.” However, the greatest missed opportunity will be failure to save one’s soul.

Jesus told a parable to two brothers who were arguing about their inheritance. “He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.” Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?’ So he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.” ’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ “So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 16:13f). The greatest investment opportunity is not on this earth but in heaven. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

After meeting the Lord on the road to Damascus Saul of Tarsus had regrets. However, God sent a preacher named Ananias to him. Ananias told Saul, “and now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’” (Acts 22:16). At the end of Paul’s life, he had no regrets. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:6-8).

Erwin Lutzer said, “Hell is the place of unquenchable, raging, unmet emotional needs, without painkillers or sedation. Hell is a place of eternal regret.” Make sure the first thing on your bucket list is a trip to the baptistry or to the throne of grace. Otherwise, you might have this regret: “The harvest is past, The summer is ended, and we are not saved!” (Jeremiah 8:20).

– Daniel R. Vess

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