Repentance As The Good Stuff
You are tasked with the responsibility of working with a man or woman in your church over a sin that dominates them. They have possibly come and acknowledged it to you or the leadership; or more than likely that person has been confronted with this sin and the need to put it away. The ugly stuff is over with. The confrontation is done, the angry looks and cutting language that the person used while being backed into a corner have passed away. Tears are dried, blame-shifting is abandoned and finally the truth, or at least most of it, is finally drawn out and now comes the good stuff. Repentance.
Do you think of repentance as the good stuff? To many the answer is no. But it is. The nasty, smelling, filthy stuff is sin tucked neatly away beneath a well-pressed shirt or a neatly maintained bank account. As that sin is hidden it invariably grows in power and its tendrils reach out into new areas of the life until one day it all comes crashing down around you. Someone had the audacity to peek beneath the surface, to ask questions that could not be easily evaded. And the next thing you know someone is sitting with you to deal with this sin and is very serious about the task.
Been there? I have. On both sides of the table I might add. I have rejoiced when I sit and see relief on the face of the one trapped in sin, as they realize they are not alone anymore and that there is someone who actually cares about them and their soul. They are fun for the confession of sin comes tumbling out , often in gasps coated in grief and shame. They want to know what to do. They desire the help.
Then there are those who are like a feral cat in a corner. Nothing is going to come easy. Questions are met with scorn, answers have to be dragged out and then carefully dissected to discern what was actually said versus what the person wanted you to assume. “I don’t remember” becomes the defense of the day. They listen with suspicious expressions as they try to discern how much you actually know. But finally, the truth comes out and lies writhing before all who witness it. They confess the sin and they appear to own it as well. Now, as I said earlier, comes the good stuff, repentance.
And so we are back to you. Pretend you are sitting in my office and you experienced the paragraph above as an interested bystander. I asked you to be there so that you could learn how sin acts and reacts when it is being confronted. I wanted you to see how ugly it can be, how destructive it truly is. You are wide-eyed and thinking that the next time I ask you to sit in with me that you will suddenly develop flu-like symptoms. But then you hear me say that you want that person to begin to meet with you for the next several weeks to begin to put this sin behind them. Do you know what to do? What to look for?
The task may seem daunting but usually it is not. It requires that you love Jesus, love the gospel, love the person and understand how repentance manifests itself. Like I just wrote, it is the good stuff. It is redemptive in its very nature. It is helping lift a beloved brother or sister out of a pit that has them trapped. It is embracing them as a fellow sinner who needs to grow in grace and truth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Next post I will begin to lay out the essence of repentance. This is important because there are a lot of forgeries out there and if you are going to help that person turn and triumph in Christ over their sin then you better be ready.