The Irreversible Regret of Looking Out For Number One

    February 24, 2018 | Articles by Rev. David Bodanza

    Regrets are those things about the past that haunt us in the present. We either did something or didn't do something back then which we cannot do anything about right now. Regrets are quite painful. It is that sorrowful realization that the past is sealed from today. You wish you could go back and do it all over. This time it would be different. But the bell cannot be unrung. The austere person would simply advise, "Hey, just build a bridge and get over it!" But that is easier said than done.

    A popular motto today is, "No Regrets." You may see it on bumper stickers or even tattooed upon another's skin. A person who realizes that time is passing may be motivated to go for all the gusto here. They do not want any regrets. They may flitter about trying to get everything they can out of each and every experience of life, knowing that there is a real possibility that they may not be having such opportunities in the future. I will never forget my conversation with a recording engineer a few years back. I was recording an album of original Christian songs that the Lord had entrusted to me. The engineer was not a believer and he made that perfectly clear. One evening we were working on a mix of a song entitled “There May Be Time.” The lyrics of one verse asked “If you only had three more hours before your turn to die, how would you spend that precious time?” In a quiet moment, I thought I would try to open an evangelistic dialogue with him. I asked him the same question, point blank: “If you only had three more hours before your turn to die, how would you spend that precious time?” He replied, “Dave, you really don’t want to know.” I didn’t have to ask him another question to get his drift.

    The world runs about trying to drink in as much pleasure as it can hold. The world craves food, entertainment and sex in such ways and in such quantities so as to pervert God’s original design for these things. The world is like a man out of control at an all-you-can-buffet, who eats so much he must vomit. Why television has even offered the tragic tales of tragically obese people as “reality shows”--- simply put, you can be entertained by another’s sin and suffering. Yet, there is nothing new under the sun. Turn on the evening newscast or remember the days of the Roman Coliseum.

    Taking their cue from the movie, life for many is just a road trip with a "bucket list," a wish list of things to do before they "kick the bucket." You may be healthy as a horse, but you are terminal. Life will end for you some day. Most people never recover from the disease of looking out for number one. They are the most important person in their world. They take care of themselves first, and no one else. Yet their care of themselves is only skin deep. They may gain the whole world, and lose their own soul. (Mark 8:36) There is no doubt that physical exercise is beneficial for our health. But no matter how much you exercise your body, it will eventually break down and you will die. That is why physical training has only limited value. Exercising your body but neglecting your own soul is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Neglecting your own soul leads to irreversible, everlasting regret. Consider this story that Jesus told.

    “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (Luke 16:19-31)

    Being rich is not necessarily the problem. Being rich and being intentionally blind to the severe human need on your doorstep is the problem here. The rich man in his extravagant self-indulgence had no concern for the sick and starving man named Lazarus. The rich man could easily help but he was only looking out for number one. He utterly disregarded the gross human need before his eyes. He was selfish and merciless. Even the dogs had more concern for poor Lazarus!

    But the ultimate common denominator known as death came in and leveled the field. Poor Lazarus died and was carried by the angels to heaven. He was with Abraham, the father of the faithful. The rich man also died and was buried. His wealth could not stave off that stark reality. The rich man went to hell, and being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. The regret of selfish, godless living must have gnawed at the rich man's soul like an endless canker. He lived a selfish life of "No Regrets" only to end up having everlasting regret. The merciless man now desperately cried out for mercy, "send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame." But there was no mercy for him. When this life is over, your fate is sealed. It was pointed out to him also that between heaven and hell "a great chasm has been fixed" so that no one can pass from heaven to hell or hell to heaven. There are no second chances after death. The fate of the dead is irreversible.

    The rich man regretfully realizes he has no chance. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his five living brothers to warn them about the danger and reality of hell, the place of eternal torment. Abraham essentially said, "they have the Bible, let them read it and heed it." The rich man replied, "No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent." Abraham says if they do not believe the Bible they will not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead. It is not a matter of evidence! It is a matter of a hard heart. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17) C.S. Lewis said, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones,

    without signposts.” Jesus is asking you a question, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) The answer, of course, is a resounding "nothing!" Now, while you still have breath, ask yourself this question, and do not rationalize or delay it away: "What will you do with Jesus Christ?"

    Back to Articles