As we stand on the threshold of entering another year, this is often the time when we reflect on what has happened this year in our lives that we want to change as the new one approaches. Times of reflection often bring us to a crossroads where we can choose to repent or choose to resent when we are faced with our shortcomings, faults, and sins. They can make us better or bitter depending on how mature we are spiritually. Those who truly repent show they are ready to move forward in what pleases God, while those who resent dislike the idea of grappling with their wrongdoings and dislike being called upon to change their ways.
Throughout scripture we see examples of both types of people. One of my favorite examples of true repentance is Zacchaeus in Luke 19. He was a tax collector who enriched himself by overcharging people on their taxes. But Zacchaeus was excited when Jesus invited himself over to his house to share a meal. The things that the Lord taught him in that short period and the love Jesus showed to him moved Zacchaeus to change his wicked ways. He acknowledged his sin and demonstrated repentance when he stated, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold,” [Luke 19:8].
True repentance is backed by actions. It isn’t merely lip service. True repentance is admitting wrong and making amends for the offenses caused to other people. Zacchaeus sacrificed his own riches to make sure that all of the people he injured in the past were made whole. He made no excuses and didn’t wallow in self-pity. He was so moved by Jesus’ love and mercy, his heart melted and he received Christ not only into his house, but also into his heart.
Then we have the example of resentment as seen in Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8. When the apostles went to Samaria to confirm the believers, Simon saw how the power of the Holy Spirit worked through the laying on of the apostles’ hands. He thought he could buy the Holy Spirit with money. Peter immediately rebuked Simon for his hardened heart and his bitterness. Simon was told to repent to get right with God. His response was “Pray ye to the LORD for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me,” [Acts 8:24].
When called upon to repent, those who resent refuse to go to the Lord. Simon was unwilling to pray for himself and told Peter to pray instead. He was in denial that anything Peter truthfully told him about himself was true. He resented the fact that Peter implied God’s judgment could come on him. Simon was looking for a way to avoid the consequences of his sin and basically told Peter “I hope none of what you said happens to me.” He refused to apologize for his wickedness.
Every opportunity that comes when we are shown our faults is an opportunity to experience God’s mercy. As Jeremiah so eloquently stated in Lamentations 3, It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. So let it be, Lord, that I embrace repentance instead of resentment.
Oh, I’m letting go of my yesterday, grab a hold free in your grace I live. There’s no more guilt! Hello new mercies! Hello every morning! And every day I live, is another day I know that I’ve been forgiven. [lyrics from Hello by KB featuring Suzy Rock]
posted by Harry A. Gaylord