Check Your Heart: A Call to Repentance

As I cleared debris from the yard, cool air on my skin and warm sun on my face was a huge change from just a few days before. Hurricane Ian ravaged a hot muggy Florida and left us with beautiful weather. However, taking a closer look, one has to remember that the tempests did blow and all is not right in the world.

Being in Orlando, there are few remnants of the hurricane. My neighborhood looks pretty much the same as it did before. However, my in-laws still have a tree on top of their house. My YMCA, situated next to a river, was under four feet of water, and the adjoining recreation trail is impassable (I tried to go for a run and it was quite the adventure). The YMCA and the running trail are a big blow to me. They are part of my daily life, my very needed and beloved routine, and I’ve had to adjust. But these things are all very minor compared to what others are dealing with. On the west coast of Florida people’s homes literally have washed away or are severely flooded. They’ve lost absolutely everything.

I’m a weather channel junky. I check the app on my phone multiple times a day, especially around a large weather event, for current conditions, to check the radar, and look at videos. A couple days after Ian went by, I saw a video of a marina full of boats that were washed ashore. 

Lord, forgive me, my first thought was a sarcastic, “Oh, those poor rich people lost their toys.” Ouch! That was harsh. Conviction immediately put a weight on my heart. My family is struggling financially, so seeing people use their money for things not essential for day to day living is hard for me. 

The truth is, however, that I grew up in a well off family. We did have a boat and sailed the Great Lakes every summer. I was very fortunate and have fond memories of sailing. More than that, it also occurred to me that many of those boats washed ashore by the storm are fishing boats. They are people’s livelihoods. It would be devastating for my husband, Andrew, and I to lose our auto repair shop. Lord forgive me for my pride and my judgment of things that don’t concern me.

A Call to Repentance

As humbling as it can be, Jesus calls us to check ourselves. He challenges us to examine our own hearts before judging others.

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:5 (ESV)

We need to daily check our hearts and seek righteousness.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!

    Try me and know my thoughts!

And see if there be any grievous way in me,

    and lead me in the way everlasting!

Psalm 139:23-24 (ESV)

When we are convicted of sin, we are called to repent. In fact, a prominent recurring message throughout God’s word is that we acknowledge our sin and repent. We can’t escape sin. Adam and Eve set us off on a seemingly endless journey of struggling with sin. Throughout the Old Testament God challenges his people to stop living in sin and pursue righteousness. After they repeatedly failed, God gave them another chance and they failed again. Finally, God sent his creation a solution to our sin.

John came into the world to prepare the way for the Messiah. He called out at the banks of the river, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He then baptized the repentant in preparation for the baptism of the Holy Spirit which would come later. John’s job was to prepare the way for the Lord.

After John’s ministry is in full swing, Jesus appears on the scene. Through teaching, healing, and casting out demons, Jesus demonstrates his almighty power. He is fully human and fully God. He is the only man who ever existed that lived without sin. The one who had no sin, died and went through Hell in our place that our sins may be forgiven. BUT. But just because Jesus is here to cleanse us, doesn’t mean we don’t have to continually acknowledge our sin.

When we sin, God grieves. We have turned away from him and have given into temptation. We have chosen our own way, without him. Repentance is when we acknowledge our sin, turn away from the ungodly, and turn back to God. We renew our faith in him and in his plan for our life. Repentance is letting go of the bad and running toward righteousness. Seeking righteousness is a continual process of the Christian life.

Do you know God personally? When you began your relationship with Christ, you confessed your sin and acknowledged that Jesus is the only way to heaven. This is your first act of repentance, but it isn’t your last. Just because you are saved from your sin, doesn’t mean you’ve stopped sinning. While there is debate on this point, I believe that once you are saved, you cannot lose your salvation. You can’t turn far enough away from God to lose your inheritance into God’s kingdom. You do, however, need to regularly repent in order to continue to seek God and grow in your faith. The righteous receive rewards in heaven.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

2 Corinthians 5:10 (ESV)

As I mentioned previously, John baptized people in preparation of Jesus, but the baptism that really matters is that of the Holy Spirit. When you become a Christian, you are baptized in the Holy Spirit. This is not a physical baptism with water (which you should do as well!) but a spiritual baptism that happens upon conversion. Once we are a believer, the spirit of God enters our hearts and is always with us.

When we are seeking God and his righteousness, we are walking in the spirit. We are allowing God to have full control of our lives. When we are not walking in the spirit, we are taking control and are so very vulnerable to sin. The spirit filled life is one of life and freedom. When we are trying to rule our lives without God, we are bound to the whiles of this sinful world. 

Bill Bright, founder of Cru, encouraged spiritual breathing.

  1. Exhale — Confess your sin — agree with God concerning your sin and thank Him for His forgiveness of it, according to 1 John 1:9 and Hebrews 10:1-25. Confession involves repentance — a change in attitude and action.
  2. Inhale — Surrender the control of your life to Christ and appropriate (receive) the fullness of the Holy Spirit by faith. Trust that He now directs and empowers you according to the command of Ephesians 5:18 and the promise of 1 John 5:14-15.

I’m so ashamed by my thoughts about those poor boat owners who lost something precious to them. As soon as the thoughts came to mind, I confessed them to God and asked him to renew my mind. That’s when he reminded me that many people use their boats to make a living and that the losses in southwest Florida have been catastrophic. It was through that repentance that I was inspired to write this blog post, which hasn’t been easy to write. I’ve continually had to pray and ask for God to fill me with his spirit and guide my words.

I hope your practice of repentance encourages you in your walk with the Lord and that you find meaning and purpose in regularly confessing your sin and turning back to God. May you find freedom from your sin as you seek to walk in the spirit.