Learning what repentance is and is not and how it changes lives
We have all done wrong. We have all had to come to grips with our actions and deal with the consequences. In short, we have all had to experience the opportunity for repentance. So, what is repentance anyway? Does it mean we carry the results of our sins with us every day as a reminder of the destructiveness of what we did? Is it saying we are sorry and then moving on? Does being repentant, especially for big sins, have to be renewed like a subscription? Once we are truly sorry for whatever it is we did wrong, can we ever expect to be happy again? Or are we now destined for a sober-minded existence? The good news is, repentance IS a powerful tool for healing AND happiness. We just need to know how to use it!
The biggest thing about repentance is understanding what it really is. It's easy to envision repenting for a wrong by saying we’re sorry. Suppose we re-tweet, post or forward something damaging about someone that was a skewed version of the truth. We realize it and let them know we shouldn’t have done it. Are we done? We apologized and told them we really didn’t mean to hurt them, so it should be over, right? Let’s all move on and leave the harshness or misunderstanding behind us.
Sorry to say (there I go saying I’m sorry) this does not even begin to approach what true repentance is. All we are doing here is expressing regret. We are pausing long enough to consider an action that didn’t sit well in our own mind. We want to be rid of the unsettled feeling. Nice for us but of no real long lasting value.
On the other hand, repentance in its truest form is one of the single most powerful decisions we as human beings can make. It is all about reversal. It takes the pause that regret gives us and transforms it into a full-fledged "stop and consider" moment. Once we decide to go down this road, we are then called upon to act. Our stop and consider moment can now become the catalyst for a reversal of direction. This action seeks to remove or repair the wrong we have done. It also takes the wellbeing of the wronged individual and makes it our priority. Repentance begins healing.
It turns out the Bible is a complete textbook on repenting in an appropriate way. God even has the prophet Isaiah give the entire nation of Israel a lesson on what fake repentance looks like and how to achieve the real thing. There are also many dramatic personal examples of real repentance in the Bible as well. Check out our July 15, 2019 podcast, “How Do I Live a Repentant Life?” for more. We not only take apart these important examples but also focus on what we need to make our own repentance genuinely work. Talk about learning something important!
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