Benefits of Repentance
By JIm Dunham
Years ago I heard a story (probably not true) of a young missionary serving in the rainforest of South America. The meeting place was in need of painting, and he was fulfilling that need. Unfortunately, all he had was a small amount of latex paint to which he was adding water just to get it finished. All of a sudden the afternoon rain came and washed the paint off of the building. The rain ended, and a loud voice from above was heard saying, “Repaint and thin no more.” Sometimes our repentance is so weak and anemic it has little or no effect on our lives or the lives of others.
At the end of one of D. L. Moody’s (1837- 1899) services a man came and said, “I think I need to repent but I don’t know for what.” Moody replied, “Kneel at the altar and guess at it.” Sometimes we live in a sin so long that we don’t see it as sin. Co-habiting is an example. After living together for five years and having three kids, a couple may think and say, “Why bother getting married? It’s only a piece of paper.”
Repentance is generally defined as “to change one's mind or purpose.” That is true but falls short of the depth of the meaning. Repentance is a commitment to do things God’s way—not mine. Repentance is a decision to cooperate with what is revealed by the Holy Spirit without regard to one’s background, experience, or circumstance.
True repentance starts with admitting the sin or offense to God. After committing adultery with Bathsheba, David first addressed his repentance for the sin to God. “Against you, and you alone, have I sinned…” (Psalm 51:4a). Only after getting right with God (1 John 1:9) and making restitution, when possible, can we begin to realize the benefits.
Benefits start with peace that passes understanding. Study Philippians 4. Have you ever had a time you could not get a good night’s sleep? Consider the possibility that you may need to repent. If nothing comes to mind, “guess at it.” If you do not experience daily “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-22-23), it may be time to examine your heart.
The choice is really clear. We can continue to live our lives with guilt, shame, denial, and frustration, or we can humble ourselves and “repaint.”