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Repentance, it comes from the word “metanoia,” meaning to change your mind, change your direction, change your perception. Flip a U-turn.

Saying sorry is either about empathizing with someone else’s pain, or else attempting to restore relationship or connection. It can either be casual as in, “I’m sorry you poured coffee on yourself,” or manipulative such as, “I said I was sorry, now do what I want.”

Repentance is something else entirely. A whole different critter! Repentance is between us and God alone. I’m a huge fan, as in I believe we should repent early and often. Repentance is practically a state of being, a lifestyle choice.

“Godly sorrow,” not to be confused with “being sorry,” is incredibly healing and life giving. Bring everything to God and let Him sort it all out for you.

Not trying to sound arrogant here, but about 90% of what I repent of God says, Nope, that’s not yours to carry. You don’t need to repent of any of that, you actually need to repent of the doubt, the insecurity, the fear, and the guilt.

I repent of people dying when I had no hand in it. I repent of being victimized when I had no hand in it. I repent of the broken world we live in, something I have very little control over. I repent of tragedies and grief that I did not cause. Sometimes I even repent of other people’s behavior. We would call that intercession, as in asking God to pour mercy, grace, and healing on them. Or even to give them a swift kick in the behind…..

Repentance is about opening your heart to God and letting Him change your mind, change your perceptions. It is about the “renewing of your mind” and also the “guarding of your heart.” We need to guard our hearts because, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…”

There are different views on this, but I never repent to people, only to God. Repenting to people is too much like saying, “sorry for existing.” One might try to make amends or restore relationship and connection, or one might not, but in my way of thinking we never “repent” to people because people don’t have the authority to forgive sins.

Also, I take seriously the concept that,  “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” and also the reverse, whatever you did not do, you did to me. People can experience all manner of hurt, offense, outrage, that may have absolutely nothing to do with us. Conversely, when we do sin, we don’t actually sin against people, we sin against God.

Sin is about missing the mark, God’s mark. Shoot, you can miss people’s variable and ever evolving, subjective marks all day long, but that doesn’t mean you have sinned.

In marriage, or in any relationship I suppose, saying sorry is sometimes called, “a bid for affection.” It’s an attempt to restore the connection and relationship. That’s a good thing, nothing wrong with that at all, but we don’t do the same with God because we don’t have to make a bid for His affection. We don’t have to heal His heart. And we don’t have to try to manipulate or restore our connection with Him. The Bible says, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” So His connection and relationship to us is not conditional in the way other people’s can sometimes be.

That’s my thinking on “repentance,” anyway. Anyone else have any thoughts?