Repentance without regret ∙
“How kind the Lord is!” she exclaimed. “He has taken away my disgrace – Luke 1:25
11 While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar.
12 Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him.
13 But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son; you are to name him John.”
17 “He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.”
18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!”
24 Soon afterward, his wife, Elizabeth, became pregnant and went into seclusion for five months.
Regret, repentance, remorse, contrition, anguish, and shame are all words used to reflect feelings or emotions of sorrow. People often use the terms regret and repent interchangeably as if they were synonymous. While there are superficial similarities, there are significant differences between regret and repentance.
While both regret and repentance involve feeling sorrow or distress for past actions or decisions, regret often refers to a more general sense of disappointment or sadness about a situation. Repentance, on the other hand, typically involves a more profound sense of remorse and a desire to make amends or change one’s behavior in the future.
Regret is a negative emotion that involves feelings of remorse. It leads one to remember and even visualize hurtful things from your personal history. This, in turn, causes more shame, guilt, anger, disappointment, embarrassment, etc. Regret is about feeling bad because of your mistakes.
Repentance is not just about feeling sorry for past actions. It involves recognizing the need for change and taking positive action to improve oneself. Repentance is actually a simple change of the mind. It is a mental decision that often involves a commitment to think and act differently and to become a better person. In the process of repentance, people may feel a sense of remorse, contrition, or sorrow for their past actions, but these emotions are not the core of repentance itself. Repentance is about learning from one’s mistakes and making a genuine effort to avoid repeating them in the future. By doing so, repentance can lead to positive transformation and growth.
Elizabeth, the wife of Zechariah, was childless. Imagine how Elizabeth felt and try to enter into her emotions. Her culture interpreted childlessness as a sign of the Father’s disfavor (1 Samuel 1:5-6). Despite being married for many years, she and her husband, Zechariah, had no children. This was a source of shame and regret. In the story is clear that Elizabeth was a righteous, godly woman. Yet, without children, she was undoubtedly viewed suspiciously by neighbors and relatives.
Elizabeth and Zechariah remained steadfast in their devotion to the Lord, despite their circumstances and the suspicions of others. Then a miracle occurred. The Father heard her prayer and dispatched His Angel with delightful news. They would have a child who would become the forerunner of the promised Messiah, as foretold in (Isaiah 40:3-5). What an unexpected and wondrous gift.
Why did the Father wait so long? His timing is always perfect. The birth of John the Baptist had to coincide with the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. The time of John’s birth had been scheduled from eternity past. The Father alone knows what is on His “daily activity list.” At the right time in human history, it occurred. Was it worth the wait?
Elizabeth and Zechariah were well advanced in years past the usual time for childbearing (Luke 1:6). But this was absolutely no problem for the Father. Miraculous births are one of His specialties. There would be no Jewish people if He did not do the same for Abraham and Sarah.
19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead – and so was Sarah’s womb.
20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.
21 He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.
Zechariah had his doubts and expressed them openly.
Luke 1:18 Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.”
Gabriel’s answer is classic. Who can argue with someone who stands in the very presence of the Father, the living God? Further, the Father sent him to deliver His message.
Luke 1:19 Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news!”
REFLECT & PRAY
“Mary’s submission is a very lovely thing. ‘Whatever God says, I accept.’ Mary had learned to forget the world’s commonest prayer – ‘Your will be changed’ – and to pray the world’s greatest prayer – ‘Your will be done’” (Barclay).
Father remove my sense of loss and remorse and give me a new spirit to live and serve You without regret or shame.
The Father has a unique way of dealing with regret, shame, and the consequent sense of inadequacy and self-doubt they produce. The Father turns it around by using sorrow to produce repentance without regret.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10
9 I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us.
10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret . . ..
How did the Father bring about this miraculous occurrence? How did He do it? It is part of the atonement accomplished by the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The cross was the ultimate solution for sin and its associated emotions of sorrow, shame, regret, and guilt, providing a complete resolution for them once and for all.
3 He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief . . ..
4 Surely, he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
10 But it was the LORD’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin . . ..
Every child of the King is cleansed completely the moment they accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. We only have to appropriate it by faith to make it real in our lives. The Lord Jesus Christ died not only for our sins but also for our personal guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy. Through His blood, we are redeemed, and our guilt is permanently removed. Although we may stumble in this fallen world as we walk with the Father, feelings of shame and regret are entirely avoidable. This is terrific news!
The Father has given His children a marvelous gift of a clean slate. It is time to actualize it and put the past behind us.
Gabriel stood in the very presence of God. Where do you stand?
© Dr. H 2023
2 thoughts on “Repentance without regret ∙”
“Gabriel stood in the very presence of God. Where do you stand? “
What a great way to provoke thought and reflection!…..Thank U
Intentionally provocative – thank you!