READ: Proverbs 27, Luke 15, Revelation 7
The prodigal son teaches us to never waste an opportunity to repent. When this wayward son returned to his father, he recognized his error was first against God: “Father, I have sinned against heaven” and then against his loved ones (Luke 15:18, 21). The prodigal son joins Joseph (“How can I do this thing and sin against God?”) and David (“Against you and you only have I sinned!”) in reminding us that all sin first insults God and only secondarily wounds others. We are to live in this continual condition of turning away from sin and self, and turning to Jesus. Biblical figures teach us that repentance is a posture, not a proclamation. We are to be ever mindful that sin is grievous, not because it is known, but because it exists. Sin never hurts no one, for sin is, first, great injury of God by man, and even if no other human is hurt by our sin, God always is. When we are secretly proud, God is offended. Because we are continually injuring God, we must continually repent. Wounds are intended to lead us to repentance. Proverbs 27:6 reminds us: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Wounds are only faithful when they lead us to repentance, for repentance leads us to life. Wounds without purpose merely kill us. One of the best thing friends can do to each other is to help lead each other to repentance.
When I observe someone repent, my heart is stirred to do likewise. The greater the spiritual stature of the genuinely penitent, the more influential that repentance is. When a man or woman far more godly than I am repents publicly for a sin far less egregious than mine, my spirit is slapped, wounded and I am roused to repent. Our children need to hear us repent; our colleagues need to hear us repent. Those we lead need to hear us often, sincerely repent for what is in our hearts and for what comes off our tongue. We teach others to repent by repenting. We mentor repentance by living a lifestyle that always is suspicious of self and always turns to Jesus.
We also mentor repentance by demanding it of those we love and lead. The faithful wounds of a friend must include striking them to turn them from folly. We do not love our friends if we do not call them to repent. The true follower of Jesus sees the sin in his or her life, turns from it, and also calls others to turn from their sin. The only thing that gives us the moral authority to call others to repent is if we live a repentant life. When we rise from bed, we should repent of the carnality that has accumulated to our soul while we slept; seven times a day or more we should turn to the Lord and ask Him for His benevolent mercy. If our hearts are always turning to Jesus, it is both ethical and powerful to ask others to turn with us. Our life and our words must be constantly about the worship of repentance.