Dear Friends -
As we come to the fourth Sunday in Lent, we continue our theme of Meeting God's Grace - in Repentance.
Repentance is relatively easy to understand, but oftentimes hard to do. Repentance starts with a change of mind. But in what sense and with what other results? Some say that a mind change is all God’s grace requires for repentance, but others, including me, suggest that we are required to change our lives and to turn away from sin and turn towards God.
It seems to me that several things go along with true repentance, and it cannot do without them. God’s grace, in granting repentance, requires these things:
1 God's Grace Teaches Goodness
Goodness instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live in a self controlled, upright, and godly manner in the present world. Clearly these concepts of goodness are easy to understand but may take a lifetime of practice to achieve.
2 Grace Imposes Responsibility
As God's children, we are challenged to live responsibly. Some of that responsibility includes controlling our bad habits and lusts and really trying to be holy in all our conduct. To know what God wants of us is only the first step to starting a life in conformity with that knowledge, that is, God's truth for us and the world.
3 Grace Inspires Action
As God's goodness leads us to repentance, the changes we make in our lives encourage and bless us to practice our faith fully - in good times and in bad. The Scriptures are filled with stories that remind and even warn us that God will render to each one of us according to our deeds. There will be eternal life to those who are patient in doing good and there will be indignation and wrath to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth. The one led to repentance by God’s goodness is the one who works toward what is good.
4 Grace Insists on Change
God's grace gives us the power to make radical changes in our lives. It means, in so many ways, that we cease to live in disobedience and we start living in Christ and in obedience to all Christ asks of us. The words that we started Lent with, as the ashes were imposed on our heads captures this entire message: "TURN FROM SIN AND BELIEVE IN THE GOSPEL."
5 Grace Encourages Excellence
God encourages us to aspire to excellence and to work toward it sincerely and fruitfully under the grace of Christ.
What goes with repentance and what does grace require?
As the days of Lent quickly pass, meeting God's Grace in repentance challenges us to change. Alone we can do nothing, but with God and God's Grace, all things are possible.