I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten.
The first spiritual regret people often share with me is this: “I wish I had become a Christian earlier in my life.” Or, “I wish I’d become more serious in my walk with God earlier in life.” Both of those regrets have to do with wasted time.
Some of you may say, “I’ve wasted so much time already. How can I eliminate those regrets about wasted years in my life, when I wasn’t a Christian or I wasn’t living for God like I ought to?” I want to share two words with you today that will help you eliminate those regrets.
The first word is justification. This is a theological term that means “to declare not guilty.” The moment you trust in Jesus to be your Savior, God declares you not guilty. In 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul explains it this way. He says God “made Him who knew no sin”—that is Jesus—“to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Jesus Christ willingly took the responsibility for every sin you and I have ever committed. That’s what Paul means when he says God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.
But it didn’t stop there. The moment you trust in Christ as your Savior, God takes the cover of your life story and wraps it around the book of Jesus Christ that contains all of His good works. And that means when God looks at you now, He no longer sees your sin. Instead, He sees the complete record of every good thing Jesus Christ ever did. In other words, you get credit for the perfect life Jesus lived. That’s what justification means.
A second word that helps us overcome the regrets in our spiritual life is the word sovereignty. Sovereignty refers to the perfect plan of God for our life. In Psalm 139:16, David says that God has written down every day of our life in His book before we ever lived one of them. Do you realize that? Every day of your life, every page of your calendar, was written in God’s book before you ever lived one of those days. That means nothing in our life takes God by surprise. And it means that God is so powerful and wise and sovereign that He can use every part of our life—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to accomplish His purpose.
Sometimes people say to me, “I don’t think God could ever forgive me for what I’ve done.” And I say, “Oh really? Tell me what you’ve done.” They’ll list all of these horrible things they’ve done. I like to say to them, “You’re not nearly as good of a sinner as you think you are. I mean, you’re not nearly as big of a sinner as the apostle Paul. Have you ever killed other Christians in the name of zealously serving God?” “Well, no, I haven’t done that.” Well, Paul said, “I was the chief of sinners. If God can forgive me, then He can forgive anyone.” God was able to use Paul’s terrible sin to accomplish an even greater purpose, to make him the spokesman for the grace of God.
Those of you who have regrets about things in your past and years you have wasted, remember God’s promise. He says, “I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). Remember God’s justification, that you are never more forgiven than you are right now in God’s eyes, and His sovereignty, that His plan for your life includes not only the good things but the bad things as well.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Living without Spiritual Regrets” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.