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. 2 Corinthians 7:10
Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Acts 3:19
The other day I got sucked into watching YouTube videos. I regret wasting so much time clicking on random comedy clips, but it did lead me to one that oddly enough encompassed how we handle and attempt to make up for our mess.
A baby in a bouncy seat was playing quietly when the family dog, Charlie, comes up and nonchalantly swipes their toy. The young one starts to cry and the beagle instantly knows he's done something wrong. Feeling guilty for his transgressions, Charlie decides to make it up to her. He drops a tennis ball in her seat, then a PlayStation controller, a rattle and pretty much anything else he can find. The tokens, or offerings, pile up so high you can barely see the baby's face.
When confronted with our list of wrong-doings, we react in much the same way as Charlie the Beagle. We naturally attempt to make up for what we’ve done. We promise to pay it all back and try harder next time.
The guilt we feel is too much to handle so we place ourselves in a spiritual timeout and distance ourselves from God, or just the opposite. We attempt to jump through so many religious hoops by reading our Bible, praying non-stop, and serving more to prove to God that we're serious this time - good actions done with the wrong motives. Even though we know we can't undo the past, our "offerings" serve as a way to quiet our shame.
The response of confession is repentance. But, we can't mistake our emotions for change. Just because we feel bad, are overcome with grief or felt a nudge of conviction, doesn't mean we've repented of our sin.
Repentance involves much more than just stopping something. It entails starting to do something new in its place. We turn from one way and pursue another. When we confess, we acknowledge how we went our own way, but we don't follow it up with a promise not to do it again. Instead, we forsake our way and set our direction towards His - under His authority and His rule.
The natural response to confession is repentance and the fruit of repentance is a relationship with Him. We are invited to walk in the new thing that God is doing in our heart. Genuine repentance involves moving forward, not looking back. It is seen in changed behavior.
With that said, repentance is incapable of ensuring we never struggle again. After all, we are humans who live in a broken world. But, we can rest on the promise that God's grace will meet us every time we come before Him and that He can use anything to shape our heart into His own.
- Where are you attempting to make up for your mistakes and struggles?
- How does repentance lead to a deeper relationship with Him?
God, I stand in the security of Your forgiveness. Rather than remain stuck trying to make up for the mistakes of my past, may I move forward trusting in You. Help me to come to You with my struggles and realize that Your ways lead to life. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.