“So he got up and went to his father.” (Luke 15:20)
The word regret carries the etymological idea of looking back to weep. Repent means to regret to the point of amending one’s life. Obviously, the difference is huge. And the key is “change.”
This Sunday we’re looking at the story Jesus told of the prodigal son. After he’d destroyed his family and squandered his money, Jesus tells us the young man “came to his senses.”
Realizing the depths to which he had sunk, he regretted his actions. He looked back at his sin against God and his father with sorrow. He looked back at all the missteps he’d taken and wished he had made different decisions. He was filled with regret.
But he didn’t leave it there: “So he got up and went to his father.” He didn’t sit in the pigsty and cry, he picked himself up and went to seek forgiveness.
That’s repentance. That’s what God calls us to do…God commands it. Nowhere does the Lord command regret. In fact, the one passage in the NT that mentions regret says: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10, NIV)
When we turn to God for forgiveness and amend our lives accordingly, we no longer have to weep over our pasts – because God has cleansed us and given us a future outside of the pigsty!