The Word Origin and History for the term repentance is taken from the Old French repentance “penitence” or from the present participle stem of repentir (see repent).
It is described by the Online Etymology Dictionary as something that goes beyond feeling to express distinct purposes of turning from sin to righteousness; the Bible word most often translated repentance means a change of mental and spiritual attitude toward sin.
As a general rule, I don’t think repentance comes easy for anyone. The glass half empty people may be prone to an attitude of “all is lost” or “my sin is too great for God’s forgiveness’. And while these statements may seem quite repentant, they are really a clever way of avoiding getting down to the specifics of exactly what sin you are committing. In fact, trying to nail down even one simple sin with these sad sacks is often next to impossible. Thank goodness that feat is tasked to the Holy Spirit rather than any one of us.
Glass half empty types will certainly come off sounding sorry. But sorrow alone won’t lead you to the true change of heart that opens you up to Christ’s forgiveness and healing.
On the flip side of this equally needy coin are the glass half full types. We, and I do mean we, myself included, tend to put on a stylish pair of rose-colored glasses and deny anything is or ever was wrong. And in spite of our upbeat, nearly annoying cheerful attitude, we really don’t come any closer to hitting the repentance mark then our equally miserable opposites.
So why in the world is it so hard to simply admit our faults, failures and sins? Why do we insist on going through life on our own, all the while denying our most basic needs for forgiveness, acceptance and love?
In Roy Hession’s book “Be Filled Now”, Roy explains that the Holy Spirit has two main functions in the heart of every believer. The first function is to convict the believer of their sin and need for forgiveness. This can take place in a myriad of ways from reading God’s word to simply spending time with other believers. The second function of the Holy Spirit is to comfort us the moment we have acknowledged that we are wrong and decide we need to change. Roy goes on to state of the Holy Spirit, “He who is relentless and disconcerting in His conviction of sin is wonderfully sweet in the comfort He gives the one who mourns for sin and laments his poverty.”
Once we accept the truth of our brokenness, the Spirit comforts us by showing us the truth of Christ’s provisions for our forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Which, by the way, He has already secured for us by His sacrifice on the cross.
My dad often used to say, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.” Problem for me is, in many ways, I’m still broken. Whether I isolate to avoid this truth, drown it out with activities, medicate it, or blame it on someone else, the truth remains. And I keep wondering why this drowning girl keeps pushing the life saver aside only to gulp down another mouthful of that bitter drink we’ve all come to know as unbelief and unforgiveness. Is anybody else out there? Can anyone else relate?
And so here is our word for today:
For this is what the high and exalted One says – He who lives forever, whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
Feeling a little broken, but confident in God’s plan for each of us to glow on!