This morning I will attend the funeral of a kind-spirited man that I served with in the military. I didn’t know him well, but in the few times I worked with him I discovered that he was professional and genuinely nice.
I learned of his death on Facebook. To say I was shocked is an understatement. The most shocking part? He’s my age and died of “natural causes.” That puts your own mortality into perspective when someone in your age bracket dies.
As a result of not knowing him well, I have only one regret about my interactions with him.
I don’t know if he was a Christian.
Lately, that’s one of the first things that comes to my mind when I hear of a tragic accident or death…were they a Christian?
Guess what? My question is too late. I should be asking the questions about a person’s belief in Christ prior to hearing about their demise.
This is the type of regret that lingers, even when I understand I can’t rewind time to ask the question. This type of regret often motivates us into action.
In the New Testament, we see that Paul was a determined persecutor of Christians prior to his own conversion (Acts 9:1, Galatians 1:13, 1 Timothy 1:13). After Paul becomes a Christ-follower, he has lingering regrets about his bloody actions against Christians (Acts 22:16).
In Ephesians 3:8, he titles himself “the least of all the saints” and in 1 Corinthians 15:9 he confesses he’s “the least of the apostles.” He’s claimed those titles as a result of the guilt he has regarding his past violence against the church.
The reflections spurred by guilt, caused Paul to initiate mission campaigns to preach the Gospel of Christ. He endured persecution himself but became a stronger advocate for Christ as a result of being driven into action based on his guilt.
What lesson is there to be learned through guilt?
To the degree that regret can be fixed, we should fix it. Paul took his guilt and began sharing the Good News. My regret over not knowing someone’s status with Christ should spur me towards sharing the Good News as well.
Don’t allow the reflections of guilt at a funeral be for nothing.