December 4, 2016
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 4:17
The word "repent" comes from the Greek word metanoeo. It includes two things: First, remorse for what I have done and, second, change from what I have been doing. Many people experience remorse for the wrong reasons. You are sorry you got caught. It is embarrassing. It means you cannot continue your life of duplicity. The Bible calls that "worldly sorrow" and the apostle Paul is clear that this "remorse" leads to personal destruction (2 Corinthians 7:10). "Godly sorrow," on the other hand, leads to a radical change in behavior.
If I come to you and ask forgiveness but continue to do the very things that I asked forgiveness for, that's not repentance. If I tell you that I have criticized you to others, feel bad about it, but continue to criticize about you to others, that's not repentance. If I flirt with immorality, experience guilt, but continue to flirt with immorality, that's not repentance. If I venture into the seamier sites of the Internet, feel guilty for my sin, but build no barriers for that temptation, that's not repentance. If I get angry and punch you in the face, tell you I'm sorry, then punch you again, that, obviously, is not a change in behavior.
Many people experience remorse. Few enact repentance. How about you?
Father, teach us the difference between worldly and godly sorrow. Don't let us get by with words only. Make us people of action and change. In Jesus' name. Amen.