Sometimes, when I’m on my own, I look back over my life and some of the things I remember make me feel pretty crap, pretty ashamed. Things I’ve said and done, people I’ve hurt, actions that have made my life harder. Do you know what I mean?





Thing is, it seems like our culture tells us that we should do everything we want to do because we don’t want to get old and live with regrets. That everything we want to do is allowed, purely on the status that we don’t want to regret NOT having done it when we were young enough to do it.

I get the idea: we will look back and think “I really wish I’d done that” – and, yes, in some ways I want to affirm this story that we should do stuff now so that we don’t look back and wonder “what if…”

BUT…(you knew that was coming right…?)

But I know that, like I said, I look back and really wish that I just HADN’T done a load of things; the mistakes that I made, the people I hurt, the embarrassing stories of stupidity, the people I gave myself to without knowing them, the bad choices I made…

You know the stuff.

You might even be making those choices right now, under this overarching cultural narrative that tells us that we must experience everything at least once, and that this is the way to live regret free.

Honestly, I don’t get it.

Because it’s just not true.

My regrets are things I’ve done. All the people I talk to, mentor, pastor, walk with, hang out with – their regrets are things they done…is that true for you?

One of the other stories that culture tells us is that to deny ourselves is a bad thing; that freedom comes in having this choice of extravagance – we have the option of doing anything we want, so let’s just do it. And anyone who says that moderation is better is an idiot.

But, as a follower of Jesus, I’ve found that there is a much better way to live – freedom to truly, passionately, wholeheartedly LIVE. Not in experiencing everything for the sake of not missing out, but to truly live without painful regrets.

This is what freedom is. To be able to choose NOT to do something because we know that there is a better way to live. Most people think of Christianity and think of rules that must be obeyed, rather than freedom to be enjoyed; they think of “thou shalt not” rather than “I came to give you life to the fullest”. But that is the promise of Jesus for each of us. That when we give up our lives to Him, we truly find them. That in denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Him, we find the greatest adventure, excitement and wholeness.

Sounds good to me.

Paul, that great New Testament writer, talks a bit about this in the first letter he wrote to the church in Corinth:

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 

Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other.” (1 Cor 10.23-24)

In other words:

Our culture tells us that anything goes – because, you know, YOLO; Jesus says follow me and you can have the best, most extravagant life – but that is through denying yourself. One is well easy, but leads to death. One is hard, but leads to life.




So which do you want?

I guess Jesus is asking us the question “Do you trust me?”…do we trust that when he gives us guidelines and boundaries to live within, that he has our best intentions in mind; that self-restraint is better than hedonism; that sobriety is better than drunkenness; that living for others is better than living for self; that following Him is better than bowing to culture.

Ultimately, we CAN do anything we want to do, that’s in part what freedom means. BUT, not everything is good for, not all beneficial to us. In fact, to go one step further, it actually steals from us and destroys us.

All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.

What is it that you don’t want to regret? Things done or undone? Either way, to live a life without regrets, the ONLY way is to follow Jesus.

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