Mark 6:18-26 (NLT)
18 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him. 21 Herodias’s chance finally came on Herod’s birthday. He gave a party for his high government officials, army officers, and the leading citizens of Galilee. 22 Then his daughter, also named Herodias, came in and performed a dance that greatly pleased Herod and his guests. “Ask me for anything you like,” the king said to the girl, “and I will give it to you.” 23 He even vowed, “I will give you whatever you ask, up to half my kingdom!” 24 She went out and asked her mother, “What should I ask for?” Her mother told her, “Ask for the head of John the Baptist!” 25 So the girl hurried back to the king and told him, “I want the head of John the Baptist, right now, on a tray!” 26 Then the king deeply regretted what he had said; but because of the vows he had made in front of his guests, he couldn’t refuse her.
Herod a powerful King misguided by his wife and daughter executed John the Baptist because of a promise to do anything for his daughter if she would dance for the guests. Even John’s faithfulness of pointing out Herod’s faults had not swayed Herod to kill John, but those fears became a threat to his wife and what she might loose. Herod having made his promise in front of his guests felt compelled to follow through on his daughters request to have John the Baptist beheaded. But it was something he deeply regretted.
Herod felt regret over his promise. The feeling of regret can be strong. It is a feeling of sorrow for an action made in the past. It can lead to severe shame and sorrow over the choices that were made. In 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 Paul said, “I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.” We can let the regrets of our past either destroy us or lead us forward. Paul almost regretted speaking out against the sins of the Corinthians, but once he saw the change they made he was overjoyed. Instead of letting regrets pull you down let them motivate you to have a desire to follow God even more closely. Regret can separate you from God or you can let it pull you closer.