I recently read this sentence by Craig Groeschel in his book Fight: "When we face failure, we can choose between two responses: remorse and repentance."
As I look back over my life to this point, I can see exactly what he's talking about. And I bet you can too with your own life. We've all had to choose between the two.
After we Christians fall and sin, we sometimes respond with remorse. Remorse says, "Wow, I feel so bad about what I did. That was so wrong of me. How could I have been so foolish?" It seems to me that remorse just embraces the shame over the wrongdoing but goes no further.
Other times, we respond with repentance. This goes way beyond remorse. Repentance says, "What I did was wrong. I deeply regret my action because it offended God and hurt other people. So I will confess my sin to God, and, with His strength, learn from my mistake and not repeat it again. In my future, I want to live and behave differently."
See the difference? Remorse just feels bad about what happened. Repentance feels a conviction about the sin, and then wants to change.
Repentance is like a u-turn. You know what I'm talking about, don't you? A car can be driving west. Then, when it makes a u-turn, it turns around and heads the opposite direction, which is east. It's a change. Repentance takes place when there is a change in our life.
In John 1:15, we see Jesus beginning His ministry with a short but powerful message: "Repent and believe the good news!" One huge reason we know repentance is a big deal is that Jesus preached about it right from the beginning. We see Him calling us all to flee from self-centered sin and race to God-centered righteousness.
We all mess up. I certainly have at times! At this point, we have a choice to make. Either we can feel remorse or exercise repentance.
May God help us to hate our sin, do a u-turn, change, and live in His righteousness.
May our hearts experience genuine repentance.
May a radical transformation take place in our lives, from the inside out, to where we become new people.
Repentance. It's the way to go. Let's all travel that path today.