Regret. What is it? The dictionary defines it as: a feeling of disappointment or distress about something that one wishes could be different.
It that’s the case—disappointment over something we wish could be different—here’s the question: will we have regret in heaven? Will we wish something could be different?
Hey, heaven’s supposed to be the perfect place. No more crying. No more tears. The end of the suffering life. We’ll be with the eternal God and experiencing life in all its fullness. We’ve finally made it back to Eden. Right?
Certainly, here in this life we’ll experience regret. It may be the loss of a loved one, the moments we might have experienced with our children, the memory of a relationship that might have been saved or been better. But what about heaven? Will we wish that things were different there?
II Corinthians 3 describes our experience before the judgment seat of Christ. There, our deeds in the body will be tested by the eternal flame. Some of those deeds will be ashes—nothing more than wood, hay and stubble. Some of our deeds may be gold—worthy of eternal commendation.
I wonder. When the flames have consumed my deeds and the pile of ashes grow, will I, in that moment, have regret? Will I wish, experience distress over what might have been? Will I say “oh the people that I might have touched?” Will I exclaim, “oh! That was what I was supposed to do?” And perhaps, will I mumble to myself, “why did I hold on so tightly? Why was I not more generous?”
Some theologians have weighed in on the subject. Piper describes it as “regretful joy” in Life as A Vapor. I think certainly at the judgment seat of Christ there is going to be at lease a moment of regret before we enter into the bliss of the permanently forgiven.
But I think of this question as less theological and more practical for us today. Our challenge today ought to be to live a life of no regrets. It is a life in the spirit intent on his voice, and dare I say it a bit reckless in our pursuit of him. And the thought of that moment of regret at the Bema seat should well influence our conduct today.
What do you think?