How can we reduce our regrets?
Have you ever made a decision that you later regretted. Certainly we all have made our share of bad decisions. All too often, as we look back over our lives, we see that a little more patience and a lot more of listening to God and obeying His Word would have helped us avoid many mistakes and the ugly messes we have gotten ourselves into.
There are many lessons in Scripture that remind us of the importance of relying on God in the process of our daily decision-making. A great example of this is found in Joshua 9:1-15. It is a story filled with some great lessons for us. Let me summarize the basics of the lesson.
The Gibeonites were a group of people living in the land of Canaan. God had instructed Joshua and the people of Israel to conquer them, along with all the idolatrous people living in the Promised Land. By the time we get to Joshua 9, Israel had experienced miraculous victories at two Canaanite cities, Jericho and Ai.
The Gibeonites heard about Israel’s invasion of Canaan and were terrified by the reports of the Israelites’ two previous victories. They decided that their best protection against destruction was to try and establish a peace treaty with the people of God. To do so, they fabricated a story and enacted a drama about traveling from a distant country, trying to convince Joshua that they were not residents of Canaan, and hopefully gaining Israel’s pity and avoiding their attack.
When the Gibeonites arrived at Israel’s camp, they presented this story to Joshua and Israel’s leaders. The Israelites examined the outward evidence — the apparent crustiness of their food and deteriorating condition of their supplies — all a ruse the Gibeonites had created. From this outward observation, Joshua and his men drew the conclusion that these folks were telling the truth. They decided to enter into a covenant of peace with them.
Unfortunately, Joshua and Israel’s leaders failed to do the one thing that was most important. They didn’t ask God for His wisdom and insight into the situation. They relied on their own senses and capacities for evaluating the situation and did not go to the Lord. The result was that they were deceived. They entered into a relationship with a group of idolatrous people God intended for them to destroy, all because of their independence and self-reliance. And once the treaty was made, they could not renege.
Take a look at what the Bible says about Israel’s failure:
“So the Israelites examined their food, but they did not consult the Lord.” — Joshua 9:14 (NLT)
What a warning and lesson this is for us. Sadly, we too can get into all kinds of trouble, wrong relationships, bad agreements and partnerships all because we make evaluations just like Joshua and the Israelites did in this situation. We view and assess circumstances with our natural eyes, human reasoning and independent thinking. We then make decisions that “seem right, reasonable and advantageous.” But we never consult God, or we consult Him only casually. We walk through life trusting in our own limited wisdom and insight rather than tapping into the wisdom of the all-wise God. The result is a lot of unnecessary pain, problems and regret.
How can we reduce such regrets? While none of us will ever live completely regret-free, we can surely reduce our regrets by regularly going to God for wisdom, and patiently waiting upon Him for His insights and perspective. We can learn to consult Him rather than relying on our own limited knowledge.
When you ask God for wisdom and wait on Him for it, you can be sure that He will give it to you!