097. I Had the Best Intentions But I Messed Up – Now What?

14 May, 2013

Have you ever made the wrong decision and things turned out badly – and now you feel guilty?  But it’s not necessarily from a sin you committed?   But even though it wasn’t a sin, you still feel kinda guilty?  And I’m talking about more than just eating at Taco Bell.

Maybe you made a decision at work, school or in your family that had a negative result. You really had the best of intentions, but things still didn’t turn out the way you wanted.  And really not because of some intentional sin, in fact, you were trying to do what was right. (This is actually what happens to most politicians who try to help the poor or whoever, but unintentionally harm a different group of people or make the problem worse).

But now you feel guilty for making the wrong decision and bringing hardship on yourself and others. At least if it was a sin, you could ask God for forgiveness. Can you really ask forgiveness for using the wrong marketing strategy at work?  Or for wanting to have family devotions at 7pm vs 9pm, when at 9pm the kids ended up being too tired?  Or for buying your wife the wrong gift.

There can be a few reasons why things didn’t turn out. Some of it could be simply you can’t control how other people are going to react. Sometimes we don’t have enough wisdom or talent.  Some of it could be elements completely out of your control.

After the fact, with our hindsight we can pick apart everything we should have done differently… which can make us feel guilty. I really like using the Peter walking on the water example.  It was only when Peter took his eyes of of Christ and focused on the waves did he start to sink.

That’s us too.  When we focus on what we should have done – it takes our eyes off of Christ and we start to sink spiritually and emotionally. Guilt can keep our eyes off of Christ. But Christ is the one in charge.  Our mistakes aren’t going to somehow thwart His plans.

It’s not like God can’t accomplish His plans because of our mistakes.

God is still going to complete His work.  Yes, our mistakes have consequences, but only up to a point. It’s not like we can make enough mistakes to prevent the book of Revelation from coming to pass.  God is still sovereign.  And guess what, He can use our mistakes for our good. Why did God promise,

RO 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

If God can use our mistakes that means he has a higher goal in mind than for us to say that perfect thing to a family member, or make the perfect decision on how to deal with a situation.  And specifically for you, that goal is to grow you spiritually.

So what do we do?

In humility, we have to accept our limitations.  We need to ask forgiveness for focusing our eyes on what we should have done which prevents us from focusing our eyes where they should be – on Christ’s love and sovereignty.  Then we need to praise Him for that love and sovereignty because we understand that…   Despite our limitations – God still sovereignly chooses to use us… because He loves us.

MT 14:25 During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. [26] When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. MT 14:27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” MT 14:28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” MT 14:29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. [30] But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” MT 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

Take time to pray: Praise God for His sovereignty and love.  Ask forgiveness for focusing on your mistakes rather than Him. Today’s Fruit of the Spirit: Peace.