“God’s kindness is intended to lead us to repentance.” (Romans 2:4)
We often mistake the kindness of God to mean that it really doesn’t matter to Him what we do.
We take His grace and mercy for granted, and assume that we can just ‘do what we want’ and we’ll be forgiven later.
As the phrase goes ‘Better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission’.
Yet, God takes our sin very seriously.
In fact, He takes it seriously enough that He sent Jesus to die for our sin.
That’s pretty serious!
Therefore, when we think of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness, it should lead us to repentance–to getting right with God, and eliminating anything standing between Him and ourselves.
There are 3 main kinds of attitudes or actions we do toward the Lord for which we should repent:
Neglect. (Taking His love for granted, and not spending enough time deepening our relationship with Him.)
Compromise. (Rationalizing ‘going along’ with the standards of our world or of unbelievers, while compromising His standards.)
Rebellion. (Openly defying a known standard–telling Him ‘No’, outright.)
These are 3 of the main ways we treat the Lord for which we should immediately acknowledge, confess to Him, and repent from–to turn back to His way.
Yet, these are the 3 things that we often rationalize and become desensitized to.
It was the same for the people of Israel.
Despite his massive, consistent work on their behalf, they would regularly Neglect Him, Compromise with the nations around them by intermarrying and eliminating the standards that He had for them, and then Rebel by worshiping other ‘gods’.
God would call them to repent, but they often would not.
On one occasion, the Lord warned, through the prophet Joel, of the impending ‘Day of the Lord’. He would send a locust plague upon them to devour everything and drive them back to Him.
“Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?” (Joel 2:10-11)
This would be serious…but did you notice who was leading this plague?
“The Lord thunders at the head of His army…” God Himself was leading them!
Why would He do that?
Because He loves them!
Any responsible parent knows that there are times we must discipline our children–because we love them, for their good–even though it’s unpleasant for both them and us at the time.
If we don’t do it–if we simple ‘permit’ them to do whatever they want–we are not being ‘loving’ to them at all. We need to be the Parent, and to look out for their long-term good.
That’s what God was doing.
Yet, even then, as He warned them, He was inviting them back.
Come back, willingly. Turn around, willingly.
“Even now,” declares the Lord,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
for the Lord your God.” (Joel 2:12-14)
He was offering–even then–to them a chance to avoid this discipline…by turning back. Repenting.
In His love, He knew that the best thing for them was to turn back to Him…and He would rather they’d do that then to send His loving discipline.
What should be their response?
“Blow the trumpet in Zion,
declare a holy fast,
call a sacred assembly.” (Joel 2:15)
They needed to come together and seek the Lord. They needed to repent. They needed to pray. They needed to get rid of whatever Neglect, Compromise, or Rebellion which had caused the Lord to send His discipline.
So, what’s this mean for us?
That we need to take our own Neglect, Compromise and Rebellion as seriously as He does.
And we need to get together, repent, confess, and seek His face.
Especially as the world grows darker and more hostile to Jesus, we–the people of God–must get rid of anything that is standing in the way of a vibrant and growing relationship with Him!
I believe that He is calling the Church to SHINE, ever brighter–especially in contrast to the darkness–and that He will use us for His glory as we do so.
But We Will Never Do So if we’re not willing to get right with Him again.
Believer, Listen Up!
Times are serious! The Body of Christ must step up! It is time to shine!
But first…it’s time to come close to Him, in repentance, confession and worship.
Are YOU ready?