Repent vb : to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life
A growing Christian’s life should be characterized by a pattern of repentance. We may intellectually agree with this statement, but it is no small a thing to live out! There is an obstacle…and it is our pride! For sake of discussion, let me suggest that our pride affects us in numerous ways to keep us from living a life of repentance. Here are a few…
First, our pride causes us to think more highly of ourselves than we should, and it is easy to do this when we compare ourselves with others as the standard of measure. We can always find people to compare ourselves with that make us look good…especially when we compare our strengths with their weaknesses! The standard we should compare ourselves to is Jesus. He alone is the standard by which our lives will be judged: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad,” (II Cor. 5:10). As long as we compare ourselves with others, our self-centered pride “informs” us that we are really “O.K.,” and we have no need of repentance.
Another way our pride exerts itself in our lives is by re-defining sin; our tendency is to lower God’s standard by focusing on external issues rather than heart issues. I came across a definition for sin that has stayed with me for years: sin can be defined as an attitude of active rebellion or passive indifference towards God, which lead to acts of disobedience. Sin always begins in our hearts…our callousness towards Him, our passive indifference, our independence, our self-centeredness, and our self-sufficiency; Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from Me,” (Matt.15:8). Our selfish pride makes it easy for us to focus on external issues when it comes to considering our sin, because it lowers the standard! God knows our hearts, and we need to regularly examine them.
Now, having acknowledged that our hearts are prideful and deceptive, we must still face the honest truth, confess our sin, and humbly turn back to God. I must painfully admit here that this, too, is no small thing. Once again, our pride doesn’t want to admit guilt–after all we think– “I’m really not that bad… am I?” The truthful answer is–“Yes, I am!” But, this honest admission re-introduces us to the sweet embrace of God! He is drawn to our humble honesty and wraps His gracious arms around us. Consider the father in the Prodigal Son–“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him,” (Luke 15:20). Because our hearts are sinful, repentance ought to be a way of life for every believer. May God give us the grace to turn from our pride and acknowledge His forgiveness again, and again, and again…for His Glory!