Something I read this morning got me to thinking about the topic of repentance and how it relates to our lives here in the real world. And thus, this blog post was born from those pre-coffee musings. I’ve only had one measly cup of coffee so far, so please forgive my half-awake ramblings. Hopefully my brain cells are awake enough to form at least half a coherent thought! 😉
Over the years in my own life, I have learned that there is a VAST difference between an “apology” and genuine repentance. (As with most things, i learned this by harsh example in my own life!) An apology is merely an “I’m sorry” – which may or may not be accompanied by true feelings of remorse and often (at least in my own life) *really* translates into, “I know this is wrong so I’m sorry about that but i’m doing it anyway because it’s what *I* want, but I’m apologizing anyway to try to assuage my conscience.” I found that doesn’t work well and creates still more distance between us and our Holy Lord.
On the flip side, genuine repentance is not just feeling sorry, but actively taking steps to turn around and walk in God’s ways, rather than our own. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” This is where “dying to self” comes in… and it’s a daily battle, one step at a time, one breath at a time…myriad situations pop up every day where we have to choose: our way, our reaction, or GOD’S way, and a God-honoring reaction?
On the other, other side… it is also easy to become trapped in hopeless despair if we do not have a proper understanding of what repentance truly is and are constantly beating ourselves up for mistakes made, never forgiving ourselves, allowing God to teach us and learning from our mistake, and then moving forward. Yet the Word says in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.” If God forgives us… who are we to do otherwise? Are we smarter and wiser than God? This is a tough one…we all have things in our past that we have a hard time getting through and letting go of the accompanying guilt/condemnation we heap on ourselves. And that keeps us stuck in a big way! (See also Romans 8:1)
BALANCE is the key. We must live a life with an attitude of repentance; i.e., continually and intentionally seeking to obey God’s way rather than our own, and when we fail (as we will), to acknowledge this before God, listen for His direction, and then make whatever corrections are needed in our own life…whether it’s apologizing to one we hurt, whether it’s making a life-style change, whatever… it all weaves in beautifully with the concept a continual “conversion of life” where we actively, intentionally seek not our will, but His, in all things, no matter what – whether it’s the mundane, small decisions we are faced with on a daily basis, or the humongous, potentially life-changing decisions/choices we are faced with. It’s all about having an attitude of humility and obedience to the Will of God in the day-to-day, nitty-gritty toughness of the real world in our real lives.
I hope that my under-caffeinated ramblings made at least a little sense. Happy Friday everyone!