Note: I wrote the following two days ago for my wife’s devotional list. I thought it might be of interest to the blog.
10And God saw their actions, that they turned from their evil way, and God repented of the evil that he said he would do to them, and he didn’t do it. – Jonah 3:10
If God can repent, why can’t I?
Repentance is such a scary word to us. It’s something people who are really nasty, probably something like the Ninevites, need to do. It’s for big revival meetings when sinners rush down to altars weeping before the Lord because of their many sins. Even if I was part of that crowd at the altar, I no longer need to.
It’s funny how when we hear Jesus say, “There will me more joy in heaven over one repenting sinner than over 99 righteous people who don’t need repentance,” we usually hear him talking about some other guy. “There’s really joy in heaven today. So-and-so repented!”
Is it that we really don’t care to spread joy in heaven, or is it so hard to get the repentance thing down that we’re just not willing to go there no matter how hard it is to do?
Yet even God repents. Why?
In navigating in the air, one learns that wind speeds and directions may change, and this will result in a need to change course because the air through which your moving is itself moving, forcing you to reorient yourself and make certain of the right course. A good navigator can make fine predictions of the air speeds and conditions along the course and come very close to a good course. But no matter how good he is, he is going to check those conditions regularly and adjust his course if necessary.
The Christian life is much like that. Even if you’ve been to the altar and repented, there’s a constant need to check your course. Conditions may have changed while you weren’t paying attention. You may need some adjustment. And that’s what repentance is. In fact, to be sure of staying on the right path, we need to constantly check and repent.
We can’t afford to one of the 99 just persons who need no repentance. I can imagine the look on Jesus’ face when he said that. Yeah, right! Ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. If we think we’re in the 99, we need to repent of that, if nothing else!
But why does God repent? The joy of it is that God will repent when we do. We can change the conditions for God’s work in us, in our church, and in our community. And when the conditions change, God will change. He is even anxious to repent. “Just give me a reason to repent and I will,” he says. Read Jeremiah 18, especially verses 7-10. “If you repent, I will repent.”
Sounds like a plan!