|photo in background from pixabay.com|
I was not shocked that the sullen, broken, woman who shared her story with me had murdered someone, nor that she had told me this considering for all intents and purposes I was a total stranger. What shocked me was the conversation that ensued.
“Have you asked God to forgive you?” I asked.
“Yes,” she replied.
The conversation continued.
And this is what shocked me. She didn’t have a single ounce of remorse over what she had done. She did not feel one bit of sorrow over murdering someone. To her, it had been justified based on something horrific the victim had done.
But how could she have asked God to forgive her if she didn’t have any sorrow? And there it was. Just what I needed to see. And what you need to see. And what we all need to see.
How many times had I gone to the Lord to seek His forgiveness because I had known it was the right thing to do, but had lacked true remorse over my sin? How many times had I asked the Lord to forgive me because someone pushed me to do so? How many times had I sought the Lord’s forgiveness simply because I did not like the ugly, hard consequences of my sin rather than because I was truly sorrowful that I had sinned against God? And how many times had I felt no remorse at all, no regret whatsoever, no sorrow in the least, over the fact that I had sinned against the Lord God almighty? Too many times.
I was no longer young. I was no longer immature. I was no longer lost. I knew the Lord. I knew what to say. If I recall correctly, I spoke to her of a word – of an action – of a dire necessity – that I believe is so often misunderstood. It is a word I have finally come to understand. And a concept I have so desperately needed. One we all need.
Repentance involves true godly sorrow. It involves a change in mind. A genuine remorse. A turn. We understand what we have done wrong. We understand that we have done wrong. We understand our wrong is sin against God. We are genuinely remorseful. We have real sorrow. We feel horrible over what we have done because we have sinned against our Maker. We have contrition in our hearts. We do not want to sin against God, and we are willing and ready to confess our sin to Him. We want His forgiveness. We want to be in fellowship with Him. We desire His forgiveness. We want to please Him. We want to change.
Oh, how easily I could have pointed the finger at this woman, condemning her for murdering a man and not even caring what she had done. But I was in no place to cast a stone. I was in a place I needed the reminder that we are all sinners. We all need God’s love, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. We all need to receive forgiveness and salvation through repentance and faith in Christ Jesus who died on the cross to pay the penalty for the very sins over which we need to feel true godly sorrow.
Before you point the finger, look in the mirror. The woman who murdered a man had justified in her mind her sin. She had no remorse. Have you ever tried to justify your sin? Have you ever felt no remorse? Have you ever asked God to forgive you but in all reality didn’t really feel bad about sinning against Him? Have you ever sought His forgiveness simply because you knew you should, or your spouse pressured you, or your pastor preached on forgiveness, but you didn’t go running to God’s mercy seat because you were truly repentant in your heart?
How many people have cried out an emotional plea to God for forgiveness and professed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord because the preacher had preached such a powerful sermon, and because the congregation was rushing to the altar? Or because their spouses were ready to leave them if they did not look like they were getting their acts together? Or because it seemed like the right thing to do at the time? Only to be followed up by the same old lifestyle? The same old wrong. The same old wickedness.
She murdered a man. Maybe by now she has repented. Maybe she has not. But her story is not my story. Nor yours. Nor anybody else’s. We are responsible for our own stories – our own lives. And we are responsible for our own true repentance.
Is it time to repent? With true godly sorrow?
2Co 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.
2Co 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.