What Repentance Looks Like
“Bring forth therefore fruits meet [deserving according to the concordance]for repentance:” Matthew 3:8
I felt awful. Dirty. There was nothing horribly wrong about what I was doing. I wasn’t breaking the law, doing anything immoral, hurting anyone or anything that I could see, not in the grand scheme of things anyway. My heart wasn’t filled with hatred and hurt, worry and yuck. But that wasn’t the point. I felt icky. It didn’t take very long to figure out why.
As much as I pray regularly to be filled with and led by the Spirit of God, I wasn’t being led by Him. I was in my flesh, and I had determined what I wanted to do with MY time for the next few minutes. So what was the big deal? It was only a few minutes of my life. The big deal? I knew I wasn’t in the will of the Lord. I was doing something to please myself, and was distracted from what God wanted me to be doing. I needed to repent.
This time, thank God, I repented. Really repented. I did what repentance really looks like. For if the truth be told, lots of us either don’t have a firm grasp of what repentance really is – or aren’t willing to really do what it is. I am the first to admit that for years I did tons of running back and forth between MY life and MY ways to the Lord with endless, “Please God forgive me,” “I’m sorry God,” “I know that was wrong,” etc. Tons of begging for forgiveness. Moments later I was right back in my sin. Why? Partly because I figured sorry was enough. Partly because I didn’t know how not to sin. Partly because I proudly and sickeningly figured I had gotten my “I’m sorry” over and done with, and could now go back to doing MY life MY way. How wrong I was! This was NOT repentance.
This time around, something was different. For one, my heart was different. I had a firm grasp by now of what repentance really looks like. It involves true godly sorry, genuine remorse, acceptance and acknowledgement that we have sinned against a holy God, and the commitment to turn to God. But that’s not all! True repentance comes with true action. Perfect action? No! We are not perfect as humans. But true repentance involves a sincere change in the right direction. The direction of the Lord! And it produces fruit, just as John the Baptist proclaimed as he preached in the wilderness the coming of Christ.
This time around, I truly repented. I didn’t go running to God with, “Please forgive me!” and rush back to my wrongdoing. I’m not sure I even said sorry at all. I recognized my wrong, turned to God, left the wrong behind, and started doing what I believed God wanted me to be doing. What freedom – and LOVE – I found in returning to Him. Repent!