Repentance vs. Sorrow

“Mere sorrow, which weeps and sits still, is not repentance. Repentance is sorrow converted into action; into a movement toward a new and better life.”–Vincent.

What is the difference between feeling guilt or sorrow for our sin and being truly repentant before God? How do you know you have repented from a sin? Do you ever spend time considering individual sins in your life?

I think we often accept the idea that we are “sinful people” who do “wrong things” but we do not stop to weigh the impact and consequences of specific sins in our lives. Only by stopping and looking at our lives and the specific sins we commit will we ever be able to repent and rid ourselves of them. After all, if we do not repent of our sins and walk away from them, we can never claim that we are being conformed to the image of Christ. While we will never be sinless in this lifetime, we should be constantly working to rid ourselves of the sins we commit. Often I recognize the sin in my life. I even feel bad about it. But I stop short of repentance because I do nothing to rid myself of that sin. That is lazy Christianity, and it is as sinful as the sins for which I fail to repent.

So how do you approach confession and repentance? Do you have an intentional plan of self-reflection and “soul searching”? Do you have friends that hold you accountable that you allow to point out the sin in your life? Do you recognize specific sins in your life and work to rid yourself of them? Or do you simply attach labels, diagnoses or excuses on them and go about your life? Are you actively using the power of the Holy Spirit to rid yourself of sin or are you content in your conformity to this world?

These are all hard questions that I ask myself on a regular basis, and sometimes the answers are ugly. The work is hard, but the results are glorious!

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