Repent! Nothing like that word to turn someone off to what you're going to say next. But, hang with me ... We've all got issues and problems that we deal with in life. Sometimes the source of our problems keep us from repenting and moving on.
Are we causing them?
Is Satan the culprit?
Is God testing us?
Is it the Government?
Is it my upbringing?
Is it other people?
We can wrestle with these questions all.day.long. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where they come from! What does matter is what we do with our problems!
God can use the difficult circumstances in your life if you let Him. It's not what happens to us, it's what happens in us that matters. For some people, problems bury them. But, think about it … if God is going to make us more like Jesus, then He’s going to take us through some of the similar struggles that Jesus went through. Our perspective of the “junk” in our lives should be viewed as character-building opportunities because that’s EXACTLY what God is doing with us in the midst of trials and tribulations.
God has not promised that all things are good or will be good on Earth. But, He has promised to work out all things FOR good (Romans 8:28). When Jesus walked the Earth, He experienced temptation, loneliness, accusations, difficult people, being misunderstood, being unappreciated, and so much more. If Jesus wasn’t spared from problems in His life, we won’t be either. In America, we are always striving to up our level of comfort. However, God is always more interested in your character development than your comfort development.
For some people, the problems in life pile up like junk in a junkyard and it becomes discouraging and can even become a crutch or an excuse in life. "Well, look at what's happened to me ... look at all the problems in my life ..." At some point, you and I have to make a decision between Jesus and the junk in our life. For some, it’s a big step of faith to be sold out for Jesus. But the most miserable place to be is on the fence. If you have one foot in the faith, and one foot out of the faith, you don't really have faith, you have confusion. When is straddling a fence ever comfortable? Am I right? You’re not going to grow spiritually trying to live between two different commitments. To really benefit from what Jesus has to offer, you have to commit to Him. You have to be all in, sold out, and totally committed to Him! The best way to let go of your junk and be all in for Jesus is to repent.
“Repent” isn’t a word we hear every day. It’s pretty counter-cultural. All it means is to admit we’re wrong and God is right. In a world that is constantly attacking absolute truth, you need a strong foundation of authority in your life to point you in the right direction. While the world wants you to point the finger, Jesus teaches us to look in the mirror. God has always been more interested in the condition of our hearts. “… The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” (1 Samuel 16:7).
When a difficult person or situation in your life arises, you can choose to act in love and humility (Colossians 3:14). No matter how much "ground" we believe we have to point our finger in the opposite direction, God is concerned with you. If there’s even a speck of doubt, insecurity, pride, anger, idolatry, deception, envy … you know when you’re wrong … we’re called to repent of this. Even if we do not act on these ugly inward thoughts, God is concerned about your heart, because everything we do flows from the heart.
Next time you're in a conflict where someone else is 99% in the wrong, ask yourself what your 1% is in the situation. We should always be compelled to take individual ownership and admit that 1% to the person. Many times, they will then admit their part. Now, that doesn’t mean you need to become a martyr, you just admit your part. One of my favorite quotes on humility says it like this, ”Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less,” (C.S. Lewis). We simply need to accept that we ALL have areas of our life that need improvement (without taking it personally). In order to be more like Jesus, we're going to face conflicts just like He did. And it's through these conflicts that we have the opportunity to grow spiritually.
The Bible teaches us in Acts 17:30 that, “In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.” God already knows what you’ve done wrong, but He’s waiting for you to admit it. Our wrongdoings (sins) separate us from God (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 6:23). But the Good News is that when you repent and put your faith in Jesus, you get immediate forgiveness! You get the freedom to live your life to the fullest without a bunch of junk in your spiritual trunk weighing you down.
God wants you to be able to wipe the slate clean. It's when we repent that we can move forward and God can build a faith that empowers you to tackle problems instead of being sacked by them. So let me ask you this … where are you stuck in a rut? What problems have come up in your life this week, this month, or this year that are weighing you down? What do you need to repent of today?
Repentance is simply this in a nutshell: Say it. And stop doing it. Give it to God, and let Him grow your character. Since no one lives a perfect life, the goal is progress, not perfection, the reality is you'll need to do this often ... so just repent and repeat... Amen.
I would love to hear your thoughts on repentance. Is this a regular habit for you? Is this difficult for you? What are your thoughts on our Prayer Pattern (A.C.T.S.) Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication? Has this worked for you? Do you practice the 10 minutes of A.C.T.S.? What has been most challenging and/or rewarding for you in having or trying to establish a regular prayer life?