“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.”
—Matthew 3:8 (NLT).
Faith and works. Many have relied upon their faith and have still fallen short. We all fall short in any event (Rom. 3:23) but the matter of true repentance is of obedience to the call to transform the life in the Spirit’s all-sufficient grace and power. The all-attending grace of our Lord Jesus sees to it that a full measure of grace is bestowed; what we do with that is up to us.
We stand condemned only by ourselves—God never does it. We alone are masters (and mistresses) of our own destiny. We have a time now to respond to the will of God, facing our sin and recovering from it—a continual manifesto underpinning the status of the born-of-the-Spirit soul.
Every tree that does not produce the fruit for which it’s capable will be good only for the fire (Matt. 3:10b). What otherwise are we saved for, but for fruitfulness?
Repentance is not simply about understanding our new standing with God, our Saviour—Jesus and him crucified for our sins, it’s necessarily about actually responding to that reality and turning hard-about-face toward the light in every living area. It’s our willingness to fall into line with the agenda of God that enunciates for all present that we follow—physically and spiritually (in understanding) and that it is no longer us in control, but God. And this is salvation; the experience.
We cannot be Christians unless we truly and continually repent. We cannot be Christians until we do so in our words, acts and deeds—consistently, with intent. We cannot follow the Christ adequately in anything of our own. In this we’re confounded. God sees we miss the point. And hasten the day that we’re fooled no more. We come to his abiding Presence and recognise, and recall, his Spirit washing clean our wounds as we trudge forth in service.
And this service is spoken to our hearts in an instant.
It’s the smallest thing, not the great thing.
It’s the minutest action and millions same, strung together. It’s that smile greeting the weary face, the kind word for the burdened heart and a moment’s patience for the person shrieking in fear. It too is the provision of the practical things for living.
It’s the no-nonsense discernment of need and providing a willing channel effective for that need. And every act to this end is a miracle, for it’s not humankind that bears this sort of active, practical compassion, but God—his Spirit working through us. The difference, we know, is very marked.
Turn and meet your God.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.