Step Two – Make a Decision for Good

Have you ever had a bad habit? Did you beat it? Have you ever gotten out of a terrible relationship? Have you ever started eating better? If you have, then you know that incredible feeling of making positive changes. But, it is not so much about being free, having better friends, or losing weight. That incredible feeling comes from taking charge, making a decision for your good, and, feeling better about yourself.

The Cambridge Dictionary1 defines “repent” and “repentance” this way,

repent: to be very sorry for something bad you have done in the past and wish that you had not done it.

repentance: the fact of showing that you are very sorry for something bad you have done in the past, and wish that you had not done it.

Does that feel familiar? It should. We usually associate repentance with negative feelings or situations. Pastors and teachers push Christians to see their errors and “repent.” Christians live to avoid repentance because repenting means they have erred. The strange fact is that the Bible does not support our negativity. There are three primary words translated as “repent.” Here are their original language definitions:

metanoeo (Greek): to change one’s mind.
shuwb: (Hebrew): to turn or return.
nacham: (Hebrew): to be sorry or to regret.

Only one of the three has any connotation of regret, and it is the least used of all. Nacham shows up 109 times in the Bible, but its positive counterpart, shuwb, shows up with no regret 1056 times. Metanaeo never had a negative twist. Yes, there are times when people repented because of great regret. Christians experience a godly grief when they realize that they messed up or missed out on God’s good directions. But godly grief is not about regret and negativity. It produces something positive. It builds an awareness of a better choice and the determination to choose something better for ourselves. Paul put it this way,

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves.

2 Corinthians 7:10-11

Repenting is just a logical choice to change our minds or direction. And, it does not have to be associated with sinning. Disciples can discover and turn to God’s incredible truths long before they sin! They can turn towards the abundant life that God planned for them.2

Have you ever had a bad habit? Did you beat it? Have you ever gotten out of a terrible relationship? Have you ever started eating better? If you have, then you get it. You know that incredible feeling of making positive changes. It is not so much about being free, having better friends, or losing weight. That incredible feeling comes from taking charge, making a decision for your good, and, feeling better about yourself.

You have the privilege of debunking the negative idea of repentance for those you lead. You can unload a little bit of burden for those disciples. Help them see that repentance is just their first step in following God. Set them free to positively repent in each and every decision — exchanging the less for the greater and the good for the better. Repenting does not have to be a crisis thing. It can be a healthy thing that helps them avoid the crisis thing.

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Challenging words to help make prepared, confident, and skilled followers of God.

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