Saturday, February 24, 2018

Lenten Season, 2018: 2nd Sunday, Repentance

New Beginnings: See? I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

To Recap: our Lenten journey thus far has included an introduction to the Lent season (Mon., Feb 12th ), a devotional about Shrove Tuesday (Feb. 13th), information about Ash Wednesday (on Feb. 14th, which was the beginning of Lent), and a meditation regarding Reflection (on Wed., Feb. 21st).

Today, Sunday, Feb. 25th, we move onto examining the concept of Repentance. But what is repentance and is it different from saying, “I’m sorry”? People often say, “I’m sorry,” but they might be sorry that they got caught versus being sorry that they did the wrong thing. Plus, individuals often say that they are sorry in an attempt to deflect attention from their immoral, unethical, and even criminal activity. Repentance differs from the use of ‘sorry’ in that the individual who repents changes their mind and demonstrates a change in behavior when they turn away from wrongdoing and are motivated to not repeat their offensive words or actions.

However, repentance isn’t a popular subject, because it entails admitting that we’ve been wrong or done something wrong. That alone causes a stumbling block to many folks. Furthermore, this is actually a phenomenon that is studied in social psychology: Once someone has publicly stated or done something that is wrong, they won’t admit they are wrong, because they don’t want to lose face. In other words, they will not back down, because they don’t want to be embarrassed and humiliated or lose the respect of their peers. We’ve seen this ‘fake repentance’ used in Biblical accounts in both the Old and New Testaments, beginning with Adam’s attempt to deflect his wrongdoing by blaming Eve and she, in turn, also passed the blame (to the serpent). But God knows precisely whom is responsible, and just as He confronted these three participants in mankind’s fall from God’s grace, He continues to hold each of us accountable for our misconduct.
Obviously, then, repentance goes far beyond saying we are sorry. We’ve already looked at a brief component of repentance (i.e., that the individual who repents changes their mind and demonstrates a change in behavior). The Oxford Dictionary notes that, “repentance is the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse. Some synonyms include contrition, penitence, regret, shame, and guilt.” As I’ve been contemplating this issue of repentance, I was reminded of 1 John 4: 20, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” This applies to the way we treat each other, and in terms of repentance this definitely applies: If we can’t repent of our words and behaviours towards those whom we have offended and ask for their forgiveness, then we can’t be reconciled to them. In that case, how can we repent and ask for forgiveness from an unseen God and be reconciled to Him?

During this season of Lent, may we examine ourselves and ask God to show us the areas or instances in which we need to repent.

Suggested Daily Scripture Readings
Sun. Matt 3: 1-12
Mon. 2 Cor. 5: 14-19
Tues. Gal. 5: 19-23
Wed. James 2:14-26
Thurs. Luke 3:  1-9
Fri. 1 John 1:1-10
Sat. Romans 2: 1-4

Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk

Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor) Canada

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