No Regrets. Matthew 23
6/29/2016 1:21:49 PM
Is it possible to have no regrets??
“Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forwards.” Soren Kierkegaard.
Do you ever stop and think what your last days will be like? They are inevitable you know…those last days. Will you be filled with joy knowing you are closer to Heaven, soon to see your Creator and God? Or will you be overcome with regrets? “And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain…” you have heard Sinatra croon, “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again too few to mention…” Good for you, Frank!
May our regrets be too few to mention. Is that possible?
Ha, I have engaged a lot of people in the discussion about whether or not it is possible to get to those ‘days’ without regrets, and it is very interesting to see the thought processes. Let’s unpack how we got here: this briefing comes on the heels of Jesus’ harsh words for the hypocrisy in the Jewish leaders, recorded in Matthew 23. We see examples of hypocrisy all around us—people saying one thing, professing their high standing—then contradicting it with the things they do. Whether in a political party, religious denomination, school board, or an individual’s life, it seems impossible to get away from it.
But, what if we determined to live each day so as to please God … would it be possible? As for hypocrisy, yes, I believe that a daily, intentional living out of the faith that we hold would make it possible to avoid hypocrisy. To further extrapolate, if that is possible, then wouldn’t it also be possible to determine from this day forward to live a life with no regrets?
The past is history, and in many respects, the future is mystery. So really, we only have today. Today is a gift from God, and I should like to live it well. And tomorrow, I should like to do that again.
I submit to you that living well may influence dying well. There are three arenas where discipline is demanded of us. For instance, whether or not I am of somewhat sound body and mind in my last days may hinge in large part in how I take care of the body God has given me—again, on an intentional, daily basis, starting today. Paul said, “Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”1 My physical well being into the future requires personal discipline—good nutrition, exercise, quality sleep and minimizing stress.
We must never lose sight of the fact that we have been created in the image of God2, and because as Paul said, ‘our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit3, we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, to ‘honor God with our bodies’.
Who will be near me in those last days, both physically present or in sweet memories? Those who I have valued and loved well, my closest familial relationships. Therefore, rifts must be righted, and short accounts must be kept, no bitterness allowed to take root. Paul succinctly said, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”4 Maybe some of us have some phone calls to make.
Most importantly, when I get Home—that is to Heaven—will I be expected? When I used to go home to my parents’ big old house in Alameda, I walked through the back kitchen door; no one was surprised to see me because I belonged there. Mom and Dad expected me to come bounding up the back stairs, and they knew the sound of my voice; I was more than familiar. When I see Jesus, I want him to know me too. I don’t want to be filled with excuses about why I hadn’t talked to him in a while, why I just couldn’t get around to doing the things that please and honor him. I want Jesus to know me and be expecting me.
So, physically, relationally and spiritually, I can discipline myself now with the daily choices I make to honor God in my body, loving others and loving him. And then … well, I probably will still have some regrets, buts like Sinatra, maybe they’ll be too few to mention because I did it His Way. Something to think about now.
1 - Corinthians 9.24-27, NLT
2 – Genesis 1.27
3 – 1 Corinthians 6.19-20
4 – Romans 12.18