What does it mean to humbly repent? During Lent we prepare ourselves for Easter by considering our sins. How does that affect us? Are we excited to finally have a reason to sit and ponder our sins? Are we paralyzed by shame and hopelessness? Do we crumble; thinking: “There’s no way out.” Are we glad that our sins aren’t as bad as they used to be? Or do we humbly repent?
I’ll be the first to admit that confession is not my highest spiritualpriority. God is constantly trying to help me see how beautiful an experiencerepentance is; but I continue to ignore His gift. I would rather not think aboutmy sins.
Romans 2:4 asks:
“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?”
Yes, I do. I show contempt for the riches of God’s kindness, tolerance and patience on a regular basis. That is why I am grateful for a season like Lent that focuses on repentance. The Israelites had a similar practice before Passover as they cleared their homes of yeast. Yeast represented sin in their lives. During Lent I am asked to consider my sins. At our church our Sunday services during Lent focus on repentance at the very beginning of our community worship, so there’s no getting around the value of repentance during Lent for me.
I think one of the reasons I avoid repentance is that I don’t humbly repent. It is my natural instinct to repent only of things that I have a pretty good idea that I can stop doing. There aren’t that many of those, so my list isn’t so long. When I humbly repent, I sit with the reality of the sins that I recall and consider the reality that there are many more that God knows that I can’t even see (that’s how deceitful my heart is —Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”) I simply put them all out there, and I realize the reality of what is happening in my soul. It is humbling to see that even though I can recognize my sins, I cannot change them. I can see God smiling at this point. He knows I’m getting somewhere now. I feel like I’m a slave to sin, but then I remember that Jesus’ shed blood brought me victory over sin and means that I don’t have to remain a slave to sin. Now Jesus is smiling. Next, I tell God that I am fully aware of my sin (as much as He wants me to be aware in this moment), and I let Him know that I am powerless over my sin. The Holy Spirit is delighted to be the power I need to humbly repent, and the whole Trinity experiences joy. The angels join in too. Luke 15:7:
“I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Humbly repenting is true repentance. Are you missing out on this experience too? Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness, tolerance and patience? It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. It is truly a beautiful experience to humbly repent.