I remember a number of occasions when I was young and got in trouble, my mother would always make me apologize to the person I offended. I did the same thing with my sons when they were young.
Ever been on a play ground with your kids, or at a birthday party and they hurt someone, either accidentally or sometimes on purpose, and you made them apologize. When we were young, that’s all it took (usually) to make everything all better. Those two words, “I’m sorry”, were magical and normally got us out of a lot of trouble.
Well, apologizing to God is a little different. Oh I suppose there are times when “I’m sorry” still works, but more often than not, we are called to repent. I have to admit for a long time I thought that “I’m sorry” was repenting. But recently during my Bible study, I was reading the Book of Joel, and I came across the following regarding real repentance.
First the dictionary version of repentance “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin,wrongdoing”. A little more than “I’m sorry”. But then I read Joel 2:12-13…
12 “Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Powerful! I love the line “rend your heart and not your garments”. God wants us to repent with feelings and emotions, not words. Sorry is for playground mistakes or accidental injury; but rending your heart is far more serious. The dictionary defines rend as follows: “to separate into parts with force or violence”.
Other Bible passages regarding repentance:
Luke 13:3b (NIV) “But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Acts 2:38 (NIV) Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 4:17 (NIV) From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
So repentance is much more that just a simple apology, we must turn from our sin and return to the Lord, and don’t turn back. Only God can heal our brokenness, and that healing starts with repentance.
Jeremiah 17:14 – “ Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the One I praise.