“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.” (Joel 2:12, ESV)
Martin Luther said, “A whole Christian’s life is one of repentance.”
Repentance is often seen as a dirty word in our culture. No one wants to be told that they are a sinner. We are quick to blame everyone and everything else for our situation.
We would rather be a victim. A victim has no claim of responsibility. A victim has no guilt. A victim can wait for others to apologize and change their ways.
But repentance is taking ownership. It starts with confession. Confession is to admit my sin and my failure. It is to stop blaming others and to acknowledge my part. With confession, there is no blame. There are no excuses. There is no justifying.
Confession is simply: “I was wrong.”
That does not mean that others are not wrong. They all have their own issues. They might have taken advantage of you. But we do not wait for them to make the first move. We can’t control their response. But we do have power over our response.
We are very good at seeing the fault in others. We have a much more difficult time seeing the fault in ourselves. I know that I struggle with this. I think highly of myself. I pride myself on doing the right thing. When I get into a dispute with my wife I am keenly aware of all the ways that she is wrong. But I think I am justified in all of my words and actions.
The truth is that I could not be more blind. I am wrong in more ways than I can imagine. But I don’t see it.
This gets us to the second level of confession. The first level of confession is to admit I am wrong. The second level of confession is to admit why I am wrong. It is easier to admit I am wrong than it is to admit how I am wrong.
But recognize that you are likely blind to your sin. Sin hides in the darkness. And Satan wants nothing more than for you to remain ignorant of your fault. Satan knows that if you stay stuck in your ignorance nothing will change.
We need the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see our sin. We need the Holy Spirit to reveal the hard truths and to give us hearts to receive that truth.
We need to listen first to the Word of God. Examine your choices, words, and actions against the Word of God. And if you don’t see anything you need to change, then go back and look at it again. We all have fault.
We also need to listen to others. Again, we are not going to say that they are not without fault. But listen closely to what they have to say. Even if you think they are off based, you need to hear the truth in their word. Because even within the most unjustified criticism, there is likely a nugget of truth.
This is hard. That is the reason that we are told to return to the Lord with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. It hurts to see ourselves clearly for who we are. But as long as we live in this sinful world there are always going to be ways in which we can grow and change. It does not matter how good things are, there are still faults and failures we can find. Those who experience the most fulfilling relationships and abundant lives are the ones who recognize their short-comings to receive the help they need. And the more specific we are at finding our faults, the greater the opportunity we have for God to aid us in overcoming the darkness in which we find ourselves.
- What areas of your life do you need to admit you are wrong?
- Can you list some specific ways you are at fault?
- Where are you struggling to see your sins? Who can you ask to help you see more clearly?
Lord, I admit I am wrong. I acknowledge I am a sinner. I am not where I want to be in life. I am quick to blame others. I so easily play the role of victim. But I know that I have made mistakes. I know that I have not always acted in loving ways according to your will. But I have so much trouble seeing it. I pray that you would help me to see what I cannot see in myself. Open my eyes to discern what I cannot discern. Lord, I plead that you would reveal where I need help so that I can ask and receive the help I need. Amen.