The National Week of Repentance, launched by Pastor Michael Anthony, has begun. The movement’s website states that its purpose is to start “a revolution of humility and courage…the “only things that will overcome the arrogance and fear that have become so pervasive in our society.” The closing days of the National Week of Repentance takes place during Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holiday that stresses reconciliation, fasting and prayer.
What is repentance? Many people believe it is an emotion, regret for sins committed. But that is only “half-repentance.” Full repentance is an act of the will, prompted by God, to feel so sorry for sin that you turn away from it and begin a new direction. The root meaning of the word is “change.”
Not sure what to repent of? Here are some suggestions:
We see it everywhere: road rage, vulgar rants on social media, personal attacks from politicians and celebrities. Did you know that stirring your inner cauldron of anger on a regular basis can lead to long-term health effects, including increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and other problems? Reasonable expressions of anger are sometimes necessary to right a wrong or express disappointment over being hurt. As the Bible says, “Be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26-27). In other words, if you need to get angry, get angry – but don’t step over the line with abusive rage.
Oh, boy, now I’m stepping on toes (even my own). On our pet issues, we are so darn sure we are right that we won’t even consider another viewpoint. This leads us to raise a steely wall around ourselves, allowing in only the people who agree with us. Anybody who dares to express an opinion contrary to our own is immediately branded a “libtard,” “homophobe,” “snowflake,” “fascist” – you get the idea. I am not talking about clear-cut morality, such as taking a stand against blatant racism or genocide. I’m talking about political and social issues that good people don’t always see eye-to-eye on, but smug people choose to draw a line in the sand between “us” and “them.” This leads us to thinking we’re better, smarter and morally superior to those we disagree with. As a Facebook friend recently put it, “Thinking you’re morally better, usually means you aren’t.”
In the words of Scripture, “What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…” (Romans 3:9-10).
There’s a lot of bogeymen creeping around nowadays. While it’s true that we live in a dangerous world, we can also let anxiety take over our minds and hearts. The media pushes fear-based news down our throats around the clock, leading some to arm themselves to the teeth, stock their homes with survivalist gear and nurture conspiratorial theories. Constant fear is no way to live. The Word of God tells us, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (I John 4:18). Loving God and others with everything we have is the antidote to fear-based thinking.
NEVER ASKING FOR HELP
We Americans pride ourselves on “going it alone,” “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps,” “toughing it out.” But there are times in our lives when we need to recognize that we need help in overcoming a habit or hang-up that keeps us down. Confiding in a wise friend, caring professional counselor or older mentor is invaluable when we navigate rough rapids. We were not created to be lone leaves scattered by the wind, but branches attached to the great, life-giving Vine of God. We need to be in fellowship, and reach out when we need help.
What is the one thing you need to repent of right now? Will you do it? Will you seek help to keep walking in the right direction?