Real Repentance


Real Repentance

 “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” Mt. 3:8

“Repent,” the Spirit of God spoke emphatically into my heart. I had had quite the morning of losing my temper at the dogs. I was tired and cranky, and a bunch of them had picked the wrong day to misbehave. For some reason, I felt totally stuck in my bad mood. The reason? It wasn’t just a lack of rest. It was that when I considered whipping out the age-old, “I’m sorry,” the Lord reproved me. Why?

Because the truth was that I wasn’t sorry. I just wanted to feel better. I wasn’t even sure if what I had done was wrong given how poorly the dogs had behaved. The Lord thought otherwise, and in His sovereignty, His will prevailed. He convicted my heart that what I had done was wrong, and showed me that the little kid who gushes out “I’m sorry” just so he can get back in his mom’s good graces in time for a double decker ice cream cone was insufficient. That’s not what repentance is, after all.

Know what a healthy apple tree does? It produces apples. Healthy fruit trees bear fruit. John the Baptist, preparing the people for the coming of Christ, warned the legalistic Pharisees and Sadducees that came to his baptism where people were confessing their sins needed to do just that. What? Bear fruit. Their repentance, if real, would have to show forth in changed lives. Real repentance is a change in one’s mind about sin, agreeing it is sin, and being truly sorry about it. This change in thinking bears the fruit of a change in lifestyle.

The Lord showed me my sin, led me to real repentance, and reminded me that though I am imperfect in walking in His ways, I need to be ever looking to Him to teach me by His Word, change me by His Spirit, and strengthen me in His love  to live the life of love and obedience that I, and we, are called to live.

When you find yourself saying “I’m sorry,” make sure you really are. God knows your heart, and He sees your actions, and His mercy is for those who really repent.

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