READ: 2 Corinthians 7
THINK: I think this is a powerful text to reflect on at the end of a year as we close out 2012 and look ahead to 2013 because of what we can learn from Paul’s words about regret, particularly in verses 8-12. As we reflect on the year that has passed every single one of us has regrets. Lots of them. And the question is this: what do we do with them? Life inevitable moves on as time marches forward so how do we appropriately deal with our regrets so that we can move on with it? Do we simply try to forget them or paper over them, pretending they never existed? Do we allow them to define us and wear them around like a label? What’s the answer? Well, Paul gives us some clues in this passage.
We can tell by the context that he had written a letter to the church at Corinth that was harsh and was very uncomfortable for them to read. It was apparently so harsh that Paul felt some regret about writing it after it was sent. But the pain caused by Paul’s letter achieved exactly the result that he had intended: it caused the Corinthian believers to repent and turn things around. The regret that they had when their failure was made evident to them – through Paul’s letter – caused them to change. And they didn’t repent and change because it was the easy thing to do or the self-interested thing to do or the comfortable thing to do. True repentance and transformation to Christ-likeness never are. Ever. They repented and allowed God to transform them because they were convicted over their sin and they desired to be whom God was calling them to be.
Though our sins are not all the same, we are all in the same position as the Corinthian church today. Each of us has fallen short and done things we regret over the course of 2012. Some of us may have even been called out for those things by friends, family members, leaders, or others – like the Corinthians were by Paul – and reacted defensively instead of with repentance. But whatever our regrets may be the fact of the matter is: we are here and we cannot take them back. So, we have 3 options. We can try to forget them and pretend they never happened. We can allow them to weigh heavily on us and cripple us. Or we can move forward like the church in Corinth. We can reflect on them, repent and ask forgiveness for them, and genuinely ask that God would transform our hearts so that we can be more like him – more like the people he designed us to be – in 2013 than we were in 2012. (I suggest option 3.)
PRAY: Take some time to very openly and honestly reflect on the last year and some of the mistakes you’ve made, people you’ve hurt, and times you’ve turned away from God. Confess these to God – and to others as necessary – and repent. Then ask God to transform you – with the full knowledge that genuine transformation is never simple or painless.