Confession: I know I have a problem. Well, at least, I think it is a problem. I like to change my mind. Specifically, I like to change my mind about furniture placement. My family has lived in our home for just over two years. I have rearranged the furniture in the living room at least three times. I have rearranged the furniture in our bedroom at least five times. By “rearrange” I mean totally move everything around. Even the piano has moved rooms and locations in those rooms. Right now, things feel pretty close to perfect. But, I have had that feeling before. At this point in my life I know that I will change my mind again, probably in about six months. Once again, my husband will be asked to rearrange things all because I like to change my mind. In this circumstance changing my mind is easy. Actually, changing the location of the furniture is pretty easy especially, in comparison to changing my mind in an act of repentance.
In the past I have been told that repentance is the act of turning away from a sin and going the other way. Unintentionally, I carved into my mind that changing the behavior was what I was going for as I repented. Recently, I realized that the real goal, the goal God asks of me is more than just the behavior. To repent I should be changing my MIND. In the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul writes to a group of people who have come to understand that they were in need of a change. They felt sorrow about where they had done wrong.
“yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Godly sorrow is when we are in disagreement with the heart of God. As we grow in our faith we are in a process of sanctification, becoming like God. During this process we will get to know God little by little more and more. As we know and understand God’s heart better he will help us to identify ways in which our life is in disagreement with His heart. That is the point when we should experience sorrow and Godly grief. We should change not just our behavior, but ask God to help us to change our heart and mind. This is what leads us to repentance. This is when we will have no regret because our lives are moving toward the heart of God. Following our mind and heart change comes life change. Paul gets really excited when he talks about the change in the Corinthians lives.
“For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.”
2 Corinthians 7:11
That’s what I want in my process of repentance! A longing, a fear, indignation, zeal and punishment as I look at my life and see how it needs to be changed in order to more clearly reflect the heart of God.
God, this is no easy task. We understand that knowing you will often call us into a place of repentance. Help us to identify sin in our lives. Help us to change our mind about our conduct and misguided beliefs. Empower us through your Spirit to turn away from our broken behavior and let our lives be changed from the inside out. In your Holy Name we pray these things!
How do you explain repentance?