God is often portrayed as standing on a podium and yelling down at us to beg for forgiveness or burn in Hell. I got some really freeing news! Repentance in the New Testament means “changing your mind.” Repentance can’t mean changing your behaviors by never committing the same sin again, or few if any of us have every truly repented. When you feel remorseful you are repenting. Repentance is being convinced that God’s ways than our own ways are in our best interests and the interest of others.
Most repeat some sins or wrongs, raising internal doubts about our relationship and sincerity with God. If we sin again, were we not truly repenting or remorseful? Repentance is an ongoing action, happening multiply times over and over if necessary. Just because we commit the same habitual sin over and over doesn’t mean we weren’t really regretful in the moment. God doesn’t say I forgive you if you never do it again.
Understanding God’s unimaginable love is the only way to conquer the ultimate problem in our life – selfishness. God thankfully does not give up hoping or forgiving, or we may never make important life changes. Sometimes we cannot stop hating ourselves for committing the same wrongs over and over. God doesn’t give up after the 10th relapse. God doesn’t heap guilt on us; our selfish actions already do that for non-evil folks. We can start off each day knowing God is in our corner.
God doesn’t worry about giving us a license to keep sinning. Who wants to keep acting in ways that further alienate our family and friends? God doesn’t keep heaping guilt on us. Repeated failures have their own consequences. Threatening others with God’s anger may discourage evil but doesn’t inspire reconciliatory actions. When we understand what God is really like and how much God loves us, we can be empowered to continually act in the best interests of others and ourselves. This is how true parental love and guidance works.
God as a Parent loves we keep regretting actions that are selfish. We often have to focus on God’s continual forgiveness to not give up. Doubting God’s favor doesn’t lead to change. Repentance is beginning to think differently, taking steps toward trusting God’s ways more than our own. Repentance isn’t guaranteeing a new lifestyle or you don’t really love God or want to change. Knowing God loves and forgives us repeatedly best leads to life transformations. God’s love is really that simply and what will lead to our being more the person we deep down desire to be.