05 January 2015

Change is the Heart of Repentance

"I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you]. For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him." ~Romans 12:1-3 AMP

Here, Paul urges the Romans to offer to God the whole of themselves, to learn what He would have them do, to learn everything He has to offer, and in so doing, to allow Him to transform them into His likeness, to understand Him and His way of doing things, His reality. 

This passage has been on my mind for a long time, now. As I've mulled it over, meditating on what Paul says here, the principles of repentance keep coming to mind. There are many more things I've learned from this passage, but repentance is the topic for today.

As you may already know, the Greek word for repentance means a change of mind, a fresh new perspective which results in a change of behavior. This only comes about when we learn. Without learning, repentance cannot happen. Repentance is not just feeling really, really guilty or shameful about something, confessing, apologizing and making restitution. Shame and guilt can be taught into someone, trained into them, and then called forth on demand based on behavior, regardless of a person's understanding of right and wrong. Restitution is often not within the bounds of our mortal power to give. We cannot heal broken hearts. We cannot restore innocence lost. No. Repentance has far more to do with God, and our invitation to Him to work in our lives, than it does with any checklist.

What we want to see, when we seek repentance, is gaining understanding that reveals the truth, showing our behavior in the true light of God's teachings. We need to learn, and in learning, to change our minds. To "renew" the way we see things. Right thinking--thoughts and beliefs in alignment with God and His Truth--increase faith. Not just the trust we have in God, but the actions that must follow in order for faith to save. Learning right thinking changes our minds. And when our minds truly change, our behavior follows. Without change, no real learning has happened. Without change, no repentance has happened.

Change is the heart of repentance.

Father God, I thank You so incredibly much for the blessings in my life. For my faculties, for my education and the understanding You have given me, for my children, my husband, my family, my friends. An "abundance of counselors", indeed. Father, as I start into this next stretch of time, teach me please. Renew my mind continually with Your Knowledge and Your Wisdom. Reveal to me Your perspective in every situation, so I may walk in Your paths. Transform me into someone who can serve You, who can serve those in need and pour Your love out into them. Show me the way to walk through this life of mine, that has been turned upside down and inside out. Show me Your will in all things, Father, and show me how You would have me proceed. You are the One Who has all Wisdom, all Knowledge, all Mercy, Grace and Power, Lord. You are the source of every good thing in my life, and the comfort for every ill. You have sought me out, reclaimed me, and instructed me when I thought I had it all figured out, and I will treasure Your teachings, Your redemption, and Your insistent, persistent Love always. In Yeshua's holy name, Amen.

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I welcome questions and concerns--they are most often what spur us closer to the truth. I only ask that we all give everyone the most generous benefit of the doubt, assigning the best motives possible. A soft answer truly does turn away wrath, and an atmosphere of Jesus's love is the best for learning, no matter which side of a discussion you're on.

Thanks so much, and God bless you!