Posts

5-Reasons-Why-Repentance-is-a-Wonderful-Gift

5 Reasons You Should Repent – Again and Again

Photo By Ben White

What is repentance? Do Christians need to repent? When was the last time you repented?

As believers, we know that Jesus calls people who have yet to believe in Him (Matthew 4:17) and Christians to repent when they have fallen away from Him (Revelation 2:5; 2:16; 2:21; 3:3; 3:19).

And yet, repentance seems like a rather unpleasant thing that we have to coerce ourselves to do. It’s like taking bitter medicine when we are sick. We don’t want to take it but force it down our throats anyway, because we know it’s supposed to be good for us.

I used to think of repentance in this way, until I realized what repentance really is. In a nutshell, it involves these three things: Recognition of our sin, renunciation of our sin and returning to God.

The more I came to understand what repentance really is, the more I realized that it is, in fact, a wonderful gift by God to us. Here are some reasons why.

 

1. Repentance lets God restore, forgive and purify us

I used to feel unworthy of God’s forgiveness when I fell into sin. I’d think, “I’m already a Christian and yet I’m still disappointing and failing God in this way. How can I still expect Him to forgive me?”

Thankfully, God assured me by reminding me of this truth: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Since then, I’ve made it a point to confess my sins before God no matter how “unworthy” or “unclean” I might feel, knowing that He will forgive me my sins and purify me, so that I will be righteous before Him again.

Just as God reached out to us before we came to know Him, He is still reaching out to us and calling us to return to Him today if we’ve fallen in sin: “Return to Me, and I will return to you” (Zechariah 1:3, Malachi 3:7). God promises to restore us when we repent of our sins (Jeremiah 15:19).

 

2. Repentance helps us to be humble

I find that when I have trouble repenting, it’s often because I have pride issues in my life. Pride is spiritual blindness that causes us to think our standards are better than God’s standards.

The opposite of pride is humility, and one definition of it, which I really like, says, “Humility means agreeing with the truth.” Perhaps that is why Paul says that repentance leads us to know the truth so that we can come to our senses (2 Timothy 2:25-26). When I repent and learn to agree with the truth of God’s standards of righteousness and sin, I am growing in humility.

God values humility; He shows favor to those who are humble, but He opposes and mocks those who are proud (Proverbs 3:34, James 4:6). So let’s be quick to repent, so that we may grow in humility and receive and enjoy God’s favor.

 

3. Repentance drives the devil away from us

During the times when I was willfully disobeying God, I found it so much harder to believe God’s truths. Instead, the voices of guilt, doubt, fear and condemnation would ring a lot louder in my heart. Thoughts like, “God doesn’t love you anymore,” “You’ve really blown it this time. God won’t give you a second chance,” and “God has given up on you now” would keep harassing me, giving me no peace.

But when I repented and returned to God, these deceptive whispers of the enemy would start to fade and I’d be more able to perceive and receive the truths of God again.

The Bible tells us, “Submit yourselves . . . to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). In this verse, submission to God means washing our hands and purifying our hearts from sin and double-mindedness (James 4:8).

When we sin, we’re actually giving the devil permission to draw near to us, for “[t]he one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). The enemy is close to those who does what he does (John 8:44). And when he is near us, he “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10).

When we submit to God by repenting, we’re proclaiming that we belong to God and we can fight against the devil and his evil influences in our lives.

 

4. Repentance frees us from the torment of sin

I’ve found this to be true in my life. When I insisted on my own sinful ways, the one who suffered the most was me. Although sin may feel good, it ultimately hurts more than it seems to promise.

And when I wasn’t willing to confess my sins to God and others due to pride and shame, I found myself continuing in my sins because the devil had gained a foothold in my life to ensnare me in the darkness. It’s only when I brought these sins into the light by confessing them to people I trusted, that those sins started to lose their power to further deceive and hurt me.

I’m thankful that God gives us confession and repentance as the means by which we can receive His mercy. Because Jesus is our great high priest who is always interceding for us before God (Hebrews 4:14; 7:25), we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

The Bible gives us this promise: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19). If we do not repent, we will not be able to receive help and relief from the torment of sin.

 

5. Repentance leads us to fullness of life with Jesus

Sin will lead to spiritual death. God’s Word tells us plainly that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) and Jesus said, “unless you repent, you too will all perish” (Luke 13:3). On the contrary, repentance leads to life (Acts 11:18) and salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Ultimately, when we repent, we are inviting Jesus to have fellowship with us. After urging Christians to “be earnest and repent,” Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me” (Revelation 3:19-20).

The immeasurable joy of having intimate fellowship with God is what Jesus won for us through His death and resurrection, so that we “may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). It certainly beats the deceptive and fleeting “joy” of any kind of sin by any measure!

Eternity doesn’t start when we go to heaven. It starts right now with having fullness of life with God, and repentance allows us to have that.

 

Would you repent and draw near to God today?

When-it's-more-blessed-to-give-than-to-receive

When It’s More Blessed To Give Than to Receive

For years, I dreaded Christmas and the social gatherings that came with it.

While my friends and colleagues looked forward excitedly to exchanging presents and spending time with friends, I hated the idea of attending awkward barbecues with strangers. The thought of having to make small talk with strangers while I tried to work my plastic cutlery into my tasteless, overcooked steak, was enough to make me wish I was the Grinch, so I could steal Christmas.

And you know what I disliked most at those gatherings? The gift exchange. Don’t get me wrong, I love presents—especially when I’m the one being showered with gifts (who doesn’t!). However, the whole practice of giving something to someone you’ve been assigned to anonymously fills me with dread.

I had always thought the game of Secret Santa should really be renamed Stingy Santa, going by what people brought to swap. Inevitably, it would be the usual cheap mug, scented candle from the discount shop, or unappealing photo frame. People seemed to treat the Secret Santa pile like a convenient place to get rid of unwanted gifts. Admittedly, I was one of them. I’d bring a box of chocolates, because, really, why bother? It was not like anyone else had put much thought in his or her present, right?

But my views on Christmas gifts changed one year, when I joined my church at its annual drive to deliver presents to families and people in need.

We were told to pick a tag from a Christmas tree, which would tell us whom to buy a gift for. It was a great opportunity, my pastor said, to be a blessing to someone in our community. She told us to give generously, as those presents would probably be the only gifts those families would have received in the whole year. Give generously, she said, because it was also a way of reflecting Jesus’ love for them. In other words, treat them like you would your own family. Put some thought into the presents, and buy something that would touch and bless the recipient.

It was a challenge to figure out how much I should spend—or was willing to. Thoughts like, “Why should I spend this much on them?” and “It’s not like they’ll know who bought it for them, and not like they’re going to thank me” came to mind.

However, upon deeper reflection, it suddenly struck me: What if God had my mindset when it came to gift-giving? We know that God loved the world so much that He gave us His one and only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins while we were still sinners (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). But if He had the same thoughts that I did, He’d be wondering whether He should give us Jesus at all, since we might not appreciate Him or thank Him for it. And what if God based the gift of exclusive time with Jesus on our social status? The wealthy and upper classes would be given more access to Jesus, while the lower classes would be relegated to a balloting system—“You get to see Jesus only if you pull out the winning ticket”. How horrible would that be?

Fortunately for us all, God loves us with a deep, everlasting love, and the gift of His precious Son is available to us all; His love knows no boundaries. Our good and generous Father gave His best; He didn’t scrimp. We should reflect that characteristic as we open our wallets to bless others this Christmas.

And so I went out to buy an autobiography of the late All Blacks rugby legend Sir Fred “The Needle” Allen (I even had it signed by the man himself), a set of cotton pyjamas, and a Christmas decoration. I wrote a note to the recipient wishing him a merry Christmas, and told him God loves him. I spent about $70 on his present—exceeding my budget and surprising myself by how much I spent. But I enjoyed the whole experience so much that I’ve been doing it ever since.

Christmas can a busy, stressful season, as we race to make sure we’ve bought presents for our loved ones, booked our holidays, planned our dinner party menus, and caught up with friends. There is nothing wrong with all this, of course—after all, it is the season to spend time with family and friends. But let’s remember that Christmas can also be one of the loneliest seasons for those without families: the elderly widower, the new resident who has just moved into your neighborhood and is millions of miles from his or her family, and the newly divorced mum who is struggling to raise three young children on her own.

This year, as you rush to complete your Christmas shopping, can I encourage you to pick something out for a family or individual in need of a pick-me-up? Can you take a bit of time to get something special, as if you’re buying it for yourself?

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should start competing with friends to see who’s able to splurge the most on a present. You also shouldn’t feel pressured to spend large for its own sake; Jesus applauded the poor widow who gave her two copper coins—all that she had—to the temple, saying that she had “put more into the treasury than all the others” (Mark 12:42-43).

If Christmas has always revolved around your own wish list for gifts or shopping for people you know, why not add someone else to your list this year? If you can’t think of anyone to buy a present for, why not do a monetary donation to your local soup kitchen or food bank?

There are many ways to give, and your one act of generosity could make a huge difference in someone’s life this Christmas—just as Jesus’ coming did for us.

The Introverted Christian

The Introverted Christian

My mouth was dry like the Mojave Desert. My thoughts were tired and sludgy. I felt slightly morose as I had forgotten to take the tablet for my gastro-esophageal reflux disease. Having already thrown up, I could still feel the sizzling acid creeping out of my stomach into my esophagus. On top of all that, I was drained from having spent the whole day at a training course—with other people!

“So, anything good about today?” My pastor asked as we drove back with the others from our church. I can’t really remember what I said. I stumbled, said something that probably wasn’t how I meant to say it, until finally someone else concisely explained what it was I was trying to say.

I am an introvert. That may surprise some people, for I have no qualms about speaking in public and I love acting. But nonetheless, I am introverted. What does that mean? I get my energy from time spent alone rather than with other people. I prefer to be in low-stimulating environments, and too much time with people can drain me.

In our culture that seems to favor the extroverts, it’s important to consider how we view introverts in church. We need to remember that the body of Christ is made up of people from all sorts of backgrounds and personalities. Each of us has our gifts, and can serve in different ways.

At the same time we shouldn’t use our dispositions in temperament as excuses. I need to be willing to be stretched and serve in areas that require me to get out of my comfort zone. This is painful, but growing in our walk of faith always is. Let us look to God to help us serve Him and to grow in our service, whether we are an introvert or an extrovert.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. —1 Timothy 6:12 (ESV)

Written By Sean Tong for YMI