When an airline pilot charts his route, he is faced with the task of remaining on course until he arrives at his destination safely. There are many weather factors that can cause the plane to drift. As a result, the pilot makes constant adjustments to the many dials and controls that allow him to fly the plane. These minor adjustments are frequent but required to stay safely on course.
In a similar way, the complexity of life presents several factors that sway us off course, and we have several adjustments that we constantly need to make in order to walk in step with God’s will.
These minor adjustments are the beautiful acts of repentance.
The word repentance has become a gloom-ridden word because it has traditionally been used as ammunition to assault the hearers of what is supposed to be God’s gospel of grace. Yet Jesus begins his ministry with this type of language:
“The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:15
How should we think of this? While we now primarily place this word within a negative framework and associate it with more of turning from something than turning to something, the Bible places it in more of a positive category and emphasizes what we should do.
In other words, the Bible speaks more to us about what to do rather than what to stop doing.
For example, when John the Baptist calls the religious leaders to repentance, they respond with, “What should we do?” He tells them, “The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one with food should do the same” (Luke 3:11).
He is associating repentance with serving the poor and being sacrificially generous to others who need help.
In other words, a call to repentance is a call to serve the desperate and broken world around us. Sure, there are things in our lives that need to go, but there are also vast needs in our world that require our attention and service.
It’s a beautiful thing to give a meal to someone who hasn’t eaten in days.
It’s a beautiful thing to pay someone’s water bill or to take them to Walmart to buy necessities for their home.
It’s a beautiful thing to live others-centered rather than self-centered.
It’s a beautiful thing to engage with the many acts of repentance that God is calling us to. Not just acts of stopping negative behavior but acts of service towards others.
The next time you hear the word “repent” or “repentance,” you can ask yourself the same thing that the religious people of Jesus’ day asked: “What should I do?” When that questions comes to mind you can remember this:
Share what you have with others who need it, give sacrificially to those who have exceedingly less than what you have, live honestly in your dealings with others, and focus your attention outward on the needs of this world. These are the beautiful acts of repentance.
Copyright © 2020 All right reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.