I’m reading through 2 Kings in my annual Bible reading plan. It’s a history book, a listing of Israel’s kings and the good and bad things they did. Many of Israel and Judah’s kings were evil, but there were a few who acted rightly. Scripture, however, always qualifies their behavior as not being fully righteous like King David.
Why? Because they didn’t go all the way in repentance. They may have taken some steps to bring the nation back to worshipping God, but they never went far enough. They only gave it about 75 or 80%. They got rid of some of the idols and pagan altars, but allowed others to remain. And obviously this displeased God. He wants 100% obedience, 100% loyalty, 100% love.
It made me think about my own repentance. Does it go far enough?
Repentance is first agreeing with God that what you have done is going against His law, acting contrary to His commands, resistance to His will. Then we express sadness for doing so and a determination to do better.
1. Agree with God that what I’ve said or done is in opposition to His decrees
2. Feel remorse and sorrow that I have failed
3. Express a desire to act differently
4. Confess it all to the Lord and receive His forgiveness
Notice how personal, how self-focused this process is. However, we often try to not make it about us, to include others.
“What about those other people that were doing the same things and encouraged me?” we argue. “Don’t you see how I was provoked, Lord? They wronged me first”, we say. “How could anyone be expected to act differently in my situation?”
Our excuses are often that our surroundings contributed to our sin, or peer pressure got the best of us, or somebody else started it. True repentance is all about me. It’s about my reaction, my response, my personal decision to say or do a certain thing. I take responsibility, I own up to my fault. It doesn’t matter what everyone around me did or that the situation was difficult and unfair. Repentance is truly a personal thing.True repentance is all about me. It’s about my reaction, my response, my personal decision to say or do a certain thing. I take responsibility, I own up to my fault. Click To Tweet
I often imagine a glass tube between me and God. Straight up, from me to Him. No one else is involved, it was my choice, my action, entirely my fault.
I have failed. I am sorry. I want to do better.
(Please help me, Lord! I can’t do this on my own)
In the case of Israel’s kings, they were responsible for the behavior and worship of the nation and had the authority to ban certain practices or to encourage others. I’m not the king of anything but I do have influence in my family, my church, my circle of friends. The behavior I exhibit and the activities or speech I encourage can make a difference. When I’m encouraging gossip or saying unkind things about others, I am exerting my influence. When others see me respond unkindly to an interruption or inconvenience, I am subtly communicating that it’s appropriate to do so.
Conversely, if I confess to others my remorse for the inappropriate things I’ve said or the harsh reaction I exhibited, if I ask for forgiveness from those I’ve wounded, that also has a powerful effect.
If my repentance is at 100%, I will not tolerate any sin in my life. I won’t ignore or excuse it. I will be quick to acknowledge it and confess it. I will immediately take steps to apologize to the one I have wronged. I will humble myself before the Lord and others if necessary.
“If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me. If you speak good words rather than worthless ones, you will be my spokesman. You must influence them; do not let them influence you! Jeremiah 15:19 (NLT)
I want my repentance and devotion to God to be 100%, not half-hearted like the kings of Israel.