Repent is a word commonly used in Christian vernacular. Typically you won't hear it applied in life outside of the church. Even within the Christian community it can be a word that isn't very popular. Perhaps that's because many people aren't really sure of what it means or perhaps they do know what it means but don't like the implications.
The dictionary identifies the word "repent" as a verb that means, "to feel sorry, self-reproachful, or contrite for past conduct". But it doesn't end there. It goes on to include the following statement in the definition, "to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one's life for the better". To repent isn't just to feel sorry about something you've done and then continue doing it. True repentance involves coming to a place in your life where you simply cannot live with your actions any longer. It generally involves humbling ourselves to the point of being able to see our wrong doing and identify it for what it is. It may include confession and it probably involves apology. It can be a painful and messy act. So why would you want to repent?
When we begin to live with lies or wrong doing in our lives something inside of us changes. A part of our hearts become hardened. It's a slow, gradual process, but if it continues in one area of our lives soon it will permeate into other areas. One little lie here, one there - all seems harmless. Helping ourselves to extra pens, or sticky notes, or tape from the office for our own personal use seems harmless, afterall the company can afford it. Slipping the odd personal expense onto the company's expense account seems harmless. All of these things desensitize us to being truthful in the larger areas of our lives. When we start to live with bigger lies in our lives we find we can't be completely honest with our friends and family. Our world shrinks because we have to be careful what we say around people. We become isolated within our lies and a part of our hearts shrivel up as we live with the guilt that begins to consume our minds. Coming to a place of repentance frees us from the prison walls that we erect inside our minds. It lifts a burden from our shoulders and we are free to enter into relational fellowship once again with the people around us. We are freed from guilt and are able to step out with confidence, secure in the knowledge that we are forgiven!
We've examined Jonah's repentant heart in chapter two of the book of Jonah in the Old Testament. Now let's watch and listen to see what it looks like when an entire city comes to repentance. Click here to view the third in the video devotion series on the book of Jonah.