“This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.” Mark 1:4 NLT
John, known as “the Baptist”, was a very special man in the Kingdom of God. He came on the scene suddenly with a dynamic ministry to fulfill. He was the forerunner of the Messiah. He was the attention-getter of the King. Preparing the way was his daily service. Yet one of his blessed responsibilities was to lead people toward “showing” they had repented of their sins. I’m thankful for that.
Why does God place a strict emphasis on showing and not just saying? It’s easier to say something than it is to really do it. Our world is filled with people who are quick with the tongue but short on the action.
Unfortunately the church is weakened by the same hypocrisy as so many refuse to repent, instead offering the cheap substitute of lip service. Tears do not equal repentance, although the water works flow liberally. Neither do words equal true repentance. One must show their repentance by making things right with those they’ve wronged. If you asked John the Baptist he’d tell you the same thing.
1. Showing your repentance is required of God. John would say in Matthew 3:8-9a, “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance and do not think to say to yourselves…” It’s a common thing to think and to say but not to do. Even those in the presence of John and Jesus were quick to rely on their own thoughts without changing a bit. That’s not repentance. It’s self-justification.
2. Showing your repentance is a reveals the work of Christ. When a person turns away from their sin and openly admits that, they are both walking in the truth and in humility. Those two characteristics flow from the Spirit of God. For the unbeliever it’s a glorious showing of God’s presence of drawing you to salvation. For the believer it’s evidence of His presence within you. Saying and not doing is fake, unreal, and useless. While others may think it’s legitimate, the Father knows the truth. That’s not repentance it’s your self-life.
Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear… Genesis 42:21
3. Showing your repentance begins the healing process. It’s at the point of humble repentance that healing begins. First you’re healing is with God and then the healing begins with those you’ve sinned against. Without true repentance the sin is repeated over and over again, compounded daily. Healing in relationships doesn’t begin before repentance, only after.
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
Psalm 51:3-4 NKJV
4. Showing your repentance magnifies Jesus and minimizes you. Can you imagine for a moment getting ripped off by Zacchaeus your fellow countryman. Sure he was just doing his job. Yes he was an agent for the Roman government. But he took so much from you. He left you with little to live on. You left his presence hurt, upset, and wondering how you would ever make ends meet. Now imagine that same man at your door some weeks later restoring all that he took and then giving you 4 times as much. Why Zacchaeus? No, no that’s far too much and too generous. Yet he answers “please forgive me, I was wrong, I hurt you, I stole from you, and here is the proof I’m sorry, take and enjoy in Jesus name!” What love! Yet if our friend Zach sent a message with “I’m sorry if I ever did anything maybe sort of to hurt you.” Who is magnified? Who is restored? That’s not repentance that’s self-protective pride.
Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” Luke 19:8 NKJV
I thank God for the fruits of repentance as He has given us the opportunity to magnify Him while showing the true essence of our sin: forsaken, and exchanged for the overwhelming portion of His love!