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Tears of Regret – Esau May 1, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Esau, Forgiveness, Genesis, Hebrews, Holiness, Isaac, Jacob, Rebekah, Regret, Tears.
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TEARS OF REGRET
Genesis 27 with Hebrews 12:14-17

When I was growing up, there was a Southern gospel song that we used to sing that went something like this:

Part of my life brings tears of regret and part of my life I would rather forget.
Part of my life is the story of shame but the rest of my life, I will honor God’s name.
Yes, part of my life to false idols I bowed and part of my life I just followed the crowd.
Part of my life is the story of shame but the rest of my life, I will honor God’s name.

Freely I drank from life’s glittering cup, so deep in my shame, I could hardly look up.
Tears of regret are the price I must pay but the rest of my life, God can have his own way.

A. Most of us experience tears of regret.
1. Tears of regret result from not foreseeing the consequences of our actions (Heb. 12:16 and Gen. 25:29-34). Patrick Morley in The Man in the Mirror tells how he as a young businessman “made it a habit to always ask older men what their greatest regrets were, hoping [to] glean some wise tips…two [regrets] showed up on virtually every man’s list…” not being financially ready for retirement at the age of fifty and not getting to know their kids before they left home. These men had not seen the consequences of their chosen lifestyle.

2. Tears of regret come when we realize the past cannot be undone (Heb. 12:17 and Gen. 27:30-40). Esau was being a little hard on himself. After all, before he was born God had already denied him the blessing he wept for. He, however, had thought that he and his father could get around God’s will. Esau could have decided to follow God’s plan as Jonathan did when David was chosen by God to be king but instead he chose to work for his own self-interests.

3. Tears of regret can easily become the fuel of bitterness (Heb. 12:15 and Genesis 27:41-28:9). The writer of Hebrews describes the root of bitterness as something more than what the hate of Esau became. It seems to be akin to unbelief, spiritual stubbornness and rebellion. There is emotional bitterness which is painful and hurtful but the greatest danger is when that bitterness results in rejection of Jesus Christ but that often happens.

B. How do we avoid tears of regret?
1. Pursue peace with others and holiness before God (Hebrews 12:14). Thomas Jefferson valued the pursuit of happiness, which in the culture of that day meant the pursuit of property. God values other pursuits. We are to pursue, to chase after, to make peace and holiness priorities in my life.

Pursuing peace: In Matthew 5:23-24 Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Erwin Lutzer in his book, When You’ve Been Wronged, tells of a missionary to Muslims in Egypt. The man received a letter from an angry Muslim that said, “Cursed be you, cursed be your wife, and cursed be your children. Cursed is the home in which you live, cursed is the car that you drive.” Rather than worrying about the letter or ignoring the letter, the man wrote a reply, “This is my prayer for you: blessed be your wife, blessed be your children, blessed be your home, and blessed is the car that you drive.”

How do you pursue peace? Erwin Lutzer suggests the following:
I. Offer a gesture of genuine goodwill. It may be small like a handshake and smile. It may be a gesture of generosity. It may be personal sacrifice. You may not feel like offering goodwill. Your gesture may be regarded with suspicion but that is where you can begin.
II. Humble yourself before God. If you are going to pursue peace with others you must first submit your will to God. Until you are convinced that God wants you to reconcile, to pursue peace, you will almost always find an excuse not to do it.
III. Humble yourself before others. Proverbs 15:33 says, “The fear of the LORD teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” To pursue peace will cost you in pride and dignity and rights. It is the only way, however, to pursue peace. Don’t misunderstand, humbling yourself does not mean you never hold others accountable or set necessary boundaries but as you hold them accountable and as you set up the boundaries, humble yourself before others.

Pursuing holiness: Jerry Bridges in Pursuit of Holiness tells of “Jonathan Edwards, who resolved never to do anything he would be afraid to do if it were the last hour of his life, [he] also made this resolution: ‘Resolved, never to give over, nor in the least to slacken, my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.’”

How then do you pursue holiness? The context of Hebrews 12 (see verse 10) implies discipline. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating on the Bible is necessary. The Holy Spirit wrote the Bible for this purpose (2 Timothy 3:16-17). As we learn the Scripture the Spirit brings to our mind and illuminates what we have learned and then we obey it. That, however, takes daily discipline.

2. Pay attention to each other’s spiritual condition (Hebrews 12:15; see also 3:12-14:1; 10:24-27). The book of Hebrews is difficult for us to understand at times because the author does not do what we often do, we compartmentalize our belief and our practice. The writer of Hebrews indicates that if there is a problem with how you live, there may well be a problem with what you believe.

There is another area that makes the book of Hebrews hard for us. The writer is willing to reserve judgment on the spiritual condition of others without shrinking from his responsibility for others. We find this hard to do. We take one of two extremes: either “judge not that you be not judged” or we condemn those who we feel do not meet our standard. Both extremes are irresponsible and wrong. The writer of Hebrews says, “Know each other, become so close to each other in every way so that you will recognize the root of bitterness when it begins to produce a sprout.”

What should you do? The answer is found in Hebrews 12:25, “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks.” God has spoken. Will you do his will?

Next Week’s Sermon: Remember this Place

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