Christians are believers, people who have faith. And we are equally – or should be – ‘repenters’. Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15), while the apostle Peter told his hearers to “Repent … for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 1:38). My guess is that we spend a lot more time considering what true faith looks like rather than the nature of true repentance.
Jennifer Greenberg, an American author and musician, suffered terrible abuse as a child at the hands of her own father. She has done some very hard thinking about repentance, constantly wondering whether her father’s professed repentance was indeed genuine. Writing in the November edition of Evangelicals Now, she identifies eight signs of true repentance:
1. A repentant person is appalled by sin. They are horrified by what they have done.
2. They make amends. Zacchaeus paid back the money he had taken unfairly.
3. They accept consequences. Some things may never be the same again.
4. They do not expect or demand forgiveness. They leave that to the wronged party.
5. They feel the depth of the pain they have caused. They will not minimise what they have done.
6. They change their behaviour. They take steps and get help to change and to avoid sin.
7. They grant space to heal. They will not feel entitled to trust or acceptance.
8. They are awestruck by God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is a divine miracle, not a right.
We would do well to examine our own repentance in the light of this searching list.
Yours warmly, in Christ,
Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister)
3 November 2019