Practical Repentance

As Christians we are to cherish what God cherishes. Amazingly God cherishes repentance. He doesn’t begrudge the repentant, rather He calls out to a perpetually adulterous Israel in Jeremiah 3:22, “Return, you faithless children.” He always desires the sinner to return to Him. Why? Jeremiah 3:22 continues, “…I will heal your unfaithfulness.” He cherishes repentance because by it He lovingly restores sinners to Himself. In a similarly amazing way God uses the act of repentance to restore those who have sinned against each other (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1). 

The Christian life must be earmarked by regular repentance, both to God and to others. I wonder, do we, do you, cherish repentance? Does it show up in your relationship with God? Does it show up in your relationships within your family, friends, and with others? Is it a regular part of your life or not?

Specifically, repentance is the remorse over sin, the renouncing of sin, and the commitment to forsake sin and faithfully obey Christ. The threat of unrestored relationships is very real, especially in the family and the church. Sin breaks fellowship and where broken fellowship remains a real, festering jeopardy to gospel ministry remains. Repentance takes humility and thus it is abrasive to us. We don’t want to acknowledge our sin. We don’t want to be seen for what we are. We don’t want to give up our sin. But the great promise of God-guaranteed restoration promotes in us a desire to undergo confession and turning from our sin. Repentance is intrinsically an act of faith.

Here are the basic practical steps to repentance and reconciliation:

To the one who did the wronging:

  1. Confess your sin and its destructiveness to the affected party – Caution: Do not reason out your sin… like “I XYZ’d because I had a rough day,” that is not repentance, that is blame shifting.
  2. Confess how and in what ways your sin was against God – Ultimately your sin is against God and owning that helps you and the affected party focus on God, His grace and His justice. 
  3. Acknowledge how faithfulness would have looked in your moment of sin and what faithfulness looks like moving forward – This helps both parties look toward the future process of reconciliation and accountability.
  4. Ask for forgiveness

To the one who was wronged:

  1. Forgive them for their sin – Though the decision to forgive ought to be done quickly, the processes of becoming reconciled may be more involved.
  2. Confess your love for them based on God’s love for you – This is a fantastic moment for the gospel and your faith in God to shine.
  3. Practically live out that forgiveness and love – This will is an act of faith as well, as you trust in the one who wronged you because of your trust in God.

Let us practice the humble and fruitful discipline of repentance in our relationship with God, within our families, and with those around us.

Additional resources: Peacemaker by Ken Sande, Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

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