I wish it had been different. I wish I could have made the best decision. I wish it hadn’t happened. Even when I walk forward, I find myself looking back, for regrets follow me wherever I determine to go. If time travel were a thing, I’d be the first one in line.
Then I find a verse that speaks perfectly to my situation and changes my perspective forever. Well, no. It is really hard for words on a page to get through a closed, depressed mindset. I hear a song then that becomes my anthem. Actually, not. Songs are catchier than text, but regrets over time form an amazingly resilient shield.
No, actually a favorite character in a loved series says something I made sure to never forget. Ace said he would live without regrets.
Now, Ace’s life was messed up. He grew up without parents, and practically everyone he met told him he shouldn’t exist. Of course, he beat them up after that. Yet now here he is staring out into his future and saying with a smile that he will live without regrets, no matter what past or future troubles he might have or what decisions he has and will make. Ace will always keep living, using each experience to reach the next one.
Is there a way I can live like that? I mean, it’s impossible, and he’s just an anime character, but even so can I capture that freedom in my own life?
Then I found a verse.
“Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you. Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (Proverbs 9:8,9 NKJV).”
In other words, tell a wise person that he messed up and he will thank you for it. On the other hand, do the same to a scoffer and you might get bruises for your trouble. It’s actually very easy for me to glance over this verse, thinking something like, “Well, I’m obviously not wise, but I’m not like that scoffer either. I mean, that guy’s a jerk.”
But desperation has a way of piercing through my closed perspective.
I look at the verse again. It leaves no room for middle ground between the wise and the scoffer; when approached with sound instruction, I will react one way or the other. Though I might pretend to be somewhere in the middle with a mixture of false humility (calling myself wise would be prideful), Christianese (no condemnation for those in Christ), and a victim’s mindset (life isn’t fair and I can’t change that). So, which am I really?
“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, and he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself. Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; rebuke a wise man, and he will love you (Proverbs 9:7,8 NKJV).”
Just to clarify, the Bible does not throw labels around in the same way as popular culture does. The labels the Bible gives are only sticky enough to last a lifetime if the labelee continually applies the glue. This book gives knowledge to the ignorant, prudence to the simple. Hope for the downtrodden. For every label found in the Bible, there is an alternative and a way to get there.
How many times have I belittled people with viewpoints different from my own? Have I scoffed at ideas that I did not completely understand? Like many, I am quick to form an opinion and slow to listen to another. I have insulated myself from much that might have done me good.
And so, I pile up indecision and regrets. Nevertheless, the solution is simple to understand: to be the wise man, accept correction. Starting with this one.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (Proverbs 9:9 NKJV).”
Thank you, Ace, for seeing the great future ahead. I hope to meet you at the summit.