“As I’ve told you many times,” Stan commented, “I just love reading what the apostle Paul wrote. He was a bright guy who was gifted by God with the ability to say a lot in a few words.”
“As contrasted to some people,” I said with a smile, “who can’t say anything of real importance regardless of how many words they use!”
Stan ignored my unkind comment and continued, “I saw another gem from the apostle Paul earlier this morning when I was reading in the Book of Acts.”
“About what?” I asked.
“Repentance,” he replied.
“Big subject with a lot of moving parts,” I said.
“Not necessarily,” Stan responded. “Yes, it’s a big subject in the sense that it’s really important, but I don’t think there are a lot of moving parts. Just two, maybe one.”
“Seems to me,” he replied, “I either repent or I don’t. There can be a lot of messy stuff in between as I waffle from one to the other, but there’s basically only one choice: repent or not. To say that I repent and there’s nothing to show repentance makes what I say just empty and hollow words.”
Continuing, he added, “Too often, I say I’m going to change directions and stop doing such-and-such, but my repentance ends with the good intention to change without really changing. It’s not really repentance; it’s just an intent to repent.”
“Intent to repent,” I repeated, “that has a nice ring to it!”
“That’s about all it has,” Stan replied. “Just like every other empty gesture. That’s what Paul was talking about when he spoke about his faith, the need to repent, and the need to perform deeds appropriate to repentance.”
“Deeds appropriate to repentance,” I repeated. “Seem to me that I remember someone else in the Bible saying something like that somewhere.”
“You’re right,” Stan replied. “John the Baptist is recorded as telling some Jewish leaders basically the same thing. He didn’t mince any words, calling them a ‘brood of vipers’, but he told them to bring forth fruit in keeping with their repentance.”
“So,” I said, “it’s kind of important to not just say I repent, but to do something that shows repentance. Is that it?”
“You got it, my friend,” Stan replied. “And remember what someone once said about a certain road being paved with good intentions!”
Bible verses to consider:
“Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those in Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. Acts of the Apostles 26:19-20.
Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with your repentance. Matthew 3:8.
Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for your provision of repentance so I could accept your free and gracious provision of life with you for eternity, rather than an eternity separated from you. Thank you, too, for the day-to-day repentance for while you keep me on this side of eternity, the repentance of changing directions and going the direction you have for me. I confess that too often I say I’m going to repent and change directions, but I don’t follow that up with actual repentance. Please forgive that foolishness. And please, Father, help me in not only saying that I repent, but that I follow my words with actions and actually change directions in accordance with your will. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Have you repented and know you will spend eternity in God’s presence when it’s time? If no, why? If you do have the assurance of salvation and redemption, how are you doing with day-to-day repentance while God keeps you on this side of eternity? Do you too often say you are going to repent, but there is no change to back up your words? If so, what’s that all about? If you sense the need for changing from just the “intent to repent” without actual repentance, how is that going to happen? Is that what you want? Why or why not?