What is Repentance, Exactly?

In this week's sermon, Adam discussed how joy is found in repentance. In one Gathering, he explained six characteristics of repentance, but had to cut them in all other Gatherings for time's sake. We've taken time to explain the six characteristics in the blog post below, or you can listen to the sermon in its entirety (with the six characteristics) here.

We don't use the word repentance often in our culture. Not many of us have been caught saying "Oh, I made a wrong turn. I better repent here so that I can turn on Main Street." And often, repentance only gets mentioned by religious people when they're holding up signs or yelling on street corners. So we thought it good to take some time in this post to discuss what repentance actually is.

Repentance is...

  1. Agreeing with God about our sin. After King David impregnates another man's wife, and then has her husband killed (which sort of sounds like an episode of Jerry Springer, but worse), he wrote Psalm 51, where he says "for I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment." Did you hear what David calls it? Sin. He doesn't call it a character flaw or an accident. He doesn't blame it on his personality or the way he was born, or on other people. When we sin, we call it sin, because that's what it is.
  2. God-centered. Repentance is more than just "I feel bad." Anyone can regret a bind their sin has gotten them in, or negative consequences about their sin. But repentance sees our sin primarily as against God, not just as a bad choice that brought unwanted consequences.
  3. Deals with the heart, not just the action.  The opposite of sin isn't virtue–it's faith. If sin is just doing something wrong, then all we'd need to do to repent is do something right. But sin at its core is failing to make Jesus our ultimate treasure. So repentance seeks to place Jesus back in his rightful place–not just change external action.
  4. Includes confession. A wildly popular thought goes something like this: "I don't have to answer to anyone except myself and God." The only problem with that is the Bible. Repentance necessarily requires confessing to other believers, because that's where healing is found (James 5:16).  People help us fight sin, and confessing our sin to other people keeps our sin from becoming a norm in our community.
  5. Includes making restitution. When our sin affects other people directly, part of repenting is making it right with them. It's not enough to say "I'm sorry I stole money from you." We also should desire to pay them back. Other people's view of Jesus or Christians could have been negatively affected by our actions, so we make an effort to set that right again.
  6. Leads to enjoying God because of Jesus. Repentance is not the same as penance. Penance says that our sorrow pays God back for our sin. Repentance is acknowledging that Jesus has already paid for our sin. Knowing that God has done that for us in the gospel should lead to a lot of rejoicing. Appropriate sorrow over sin should never remain alone. It should always eventually morph into gratefulness and joy over Jesus' work on the cross.

Money Management Principles

The following post is part of our Treasure Hunting series. Find out more about our Treasure Hunting series here.

In Sunday's sermon, we looked at four money management principles taken from a parable that Jesus tells in Matthew 25:14-30 (he tells another version of this parable in Luke 19:11-27). These four money management principles are a tiny portion of the hundreds of biblical wisdom principles for how we handle our finances. But they are also some of the most foundational principles to help us view our money in light eternity and in light of who God is.

Money Management Principle #1: It’s all God’s. (Matthew 25:14-15, Psalm 50:10-12, Haggai 2:8) Everything in all of creation is God’s. There’s nothing He doesn’t rightly look at say, “Mine!” In Psalm 50, He goes as far as to say that if He was hungry (for a delicious steak wrapped in bacon hypothetically), He wouldn’t ask us for food. He has plenty.  The fact that God owns everything means He doesn’t need our money. But it also means, we need to understand that He owns it or we will never learn how to handle it correctly.

Money Management Principle #2: I have a job to do. (Matthew 25:14-15, Proverbs 27:23-24, Proverbs 6:6-11) Because everything is God’s, whatever He has given us is a trust that we are called to manage faithfully. What God has given us includes every opportunity, every relationship, every talent, every bit of leadership ability...and it also includes every dollar. We are Jesus’ account managers charged with the task of bringing a return on his investment in our lives.

Money Management Principle #3: It’s not about how much I get; it’s about being faithful. (Matthew 25:15-18, 1 Corinthians 4:2) People get different amounts; different amounts of intellect, different amounts of opportunity, different amounts of ability, different amounts and quality of parenting. And people get different amounts of money. The question isn’t 'how much did you get?' The question isn’t 'why didn’t you get more or why did so-and-so get so much?' The question is 'were you faithful with what you were given?'

Stop believing that if you got more, then you would start working hard, planning well and giving sacrificially and faithfully. Money is a heart issue, not a salary issue. If you won’t give now, if you won’t be faithful now with a little, then getting more money will not magically change your heart to want to work hard, be faithful or give more.

Money Management Principle #4: My money reveals my heart. (Matthew 25:19-30, Matthew 6:21, Luke 12:34) Every financial decision I make is a spiritual decision. Every financial decision I make reveals my heart. Every financial decision reveals what I value on planet earth. If I don’t value God’s kingdom, then my money will not flow towards God’s kingdom. Money is an objective truth teller that reveals what my heart truly treasures.

So what is your money saying about your heart? Are you listening to what your wallet is preaching about you?  How loudly is your money proclaiming to the world that Jesus is what you treasure most?

This post was contributed by pastor Jon Ludovina. Jon serves by overseeing our teaching and preaching. Follow Jon on Twitter at @j_luda. Find out more about our leadership on our leadership page.