Understanding Repentance

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15, ESV)

When my full attention was on playing competitive tour golf, I had a right to my high expectations of performance because I was practicing and working on my game. Unfortunately, my hyper-charged, internal critic still clings to these high standards and shouts inside my head, and sometimes outwardly too, even though I no longer practice. Just last week, I called myself a doorknob, an idiot, and had a few bursts of anger. I’m still a work in progress.

The energy that fuels my internal irritation, whether on the course or in my journey with Jesus, is my judging mind that naturally spots errors and imperfections. My struggle with perfectionism can be tortuous as my inner critic is constantly looking for what’s wrong with me or the mistakes and errors that exist in the world. It’s exhausting.

While I can’t change the way I see, I can work on changing what I do with the way I see, both myself and the world. This is why I am thankful for God’s ongoing invitation to repent.

The word repent does not mean to confess a list of facts where we have done something wrong. The Greek word is metanoeo and means to change the mind. It involves sorrow and is accompanied by a true change of heart toward God.

What might repentance look like? I am repentant when I name that golf is just a game and has no power to define me. Repentance for my cutting words toward myself leads to gratitude for the opportunity to play and enjoy the game.

Spiritually, I am asking for eyes to see how to change my critical spirit into an internal encourager. Curt Thompson likens repentance to rehab from an addiction—it’s “a long obedience in the same direction” (a quote Eugene Peterson adapted from a Friedrich Nietzsche quote). Repentance is asking for forgiveness when I hurt someone with my words, letting go of demanding expectations, or shutting down the computer before 8 p.m. because I have done enough for the day.

God’s grace offers an indefinite number of returns to his love and forgiveness. Our journey to become who God created us to be is a long road of obedience in the same direction, turning our face back to God again and again and again—every day.

The evil one wants us to believe God’s grace has limits. And while “…the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:14),” God is always waiting for us to return.

Jesus is serious about not leaving any stone unturned in our life before it is healed. He is crazy about us and it is his kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Every day he whispers, “Do you see me? Do you feel me? Do you know me?”

Come, let us repent and believe in the gospel of God together.

Tracy Hanson
July 11, 2019
Copyright 2019 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.

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