Remorse or Repentance?
What is remorse? What is repentance to you? When you talk to God, do you confess your sins to Him? We often do and conclude the prayer by saying something like, “God help me to do better…” Though we always need God’s help and God wants to help us, God won’t take over our lives and make our decisions for us. From the very beginning of time, God gave mankind freewill to choose right from wrong, and we will live with the consequences from those decisions. When we sin, either publicly or privately, do we confess our sins to the person we offended or only to God? “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16).
What gets in our way from doing such a thing? I’d argue that it’s pride. If we could humble ourselves to the point where we can go to someone and ask for help, we will have taken a dramatic step in the right direction to becoming better children of God. Confessing that we have a problem is the first step, but the second step is harder. “Actually turning away from that sin? You’re joking, right?” How often do we “repent” of our sins and the next day find ourselves doing that exact thing that we repented of the day earlier? True repentance involves transformation. Doing the 180. Not living on the Devil’s doorstep. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
It’s so easy in our lives to fall into a rut and get lazy or want something new, but we must be careful. When we look to other places instead of The Book, we will find ourselves so far out there in the world that no one will recognize us. However, if we can change our hearts and minds from thinking evil things to good things, then when life throws us curveballs we can rely on the strength that God offers to us and together we can come out on top with His help. “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9). How often do we still try and cling to the wrong thing? Paul charges us to develop a discomfort with evil and a craving for being good and right. There is a difference between remorse and repentance. Feeling sorry or guilty for the bad thing we’ve done is good. I believe that God put that feeling in us for a reason, but true repentance takes action and, yes, work. So the next time we mess up, will we confess our sin and going right back to that lifestyle? Or will we see the bigger picture and fervently try to turn away from the sin in our lives?