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Fruitful Repentance

Repentance … is the perfect answer for people who are lost, or who are out of touch with whom God wants them to be and who they want to be themselves.

Fat Heart

A sensitized heart, we find, is the opposite of what the Bible calls a fat, lusty, greasy heart. An insensitive heart carries with it the idea of a drooling glutton who desires only to accumulate more and more for himself and who is never satisfied with what he has. The best visual picture I can give you is the character, “Jabba the Hut” in Steven Spielberg’s movie, The Return of the Jedi. Whenever we discover such selfish greediness in our hearts—a wanting of this and that and everything else—we will not find ourselves repenting. Lusting and wanting to get for ourselves is the basis of most sin.

Repentance says “no” to ourselves. As soon as we give up our pursuit for ourselves, our hearts will become ready for repentance.

Dull Ears

Repentance also comes from a sensitized ear. Its opposite, a dull ear, is one that is heavy and overburdened, weighed down with so much “knowledge” that it cannot hear any more. If we ever come to the place where we think we have heard it all, then we are in danger. Our ears have become so filled up that we cannot hear another thing. We have lost our ability to be teachable, to be changed.

If we find ourselves more interested in looking for someone who will agree with us than we are in finding someone who will tell us the truth, then our eyes have become dim.

It is only when we conclude, Maybe there is something more I haven’t heard before, that we can come to a place of repentance. Dull ears are quick to decide, I know that, but the knowledge never goes past their ears and into their lives.

Furthermore, dull ears are heavy ears which hear nothing but the sound of one’s own breathing, and which get caught up in the plight and sorrow of one’s own struggle to survive. Many cases of depression are rooted in self-pity, and are partially the consequence of having dull ears.

By no means am I implying that all or even most depression is caused by an unwillingness to respond to correction. In fact, depression already has plenty of guilt associated with it. Depressed people don’t need to be told that their depression is their fault. But sometimes, our refusal to receive correction can lead to depression. If people are willing to hear correction and respond to that correction in repentance, much of their depression will be eliminated.

We often become discouraged about repentance because we forget that it is a process.

Only with open ears that welcome outside perspectives and input will we repent. Once we think we know everything, we eliminate our opportunity to respond to voices of conviction in our soul. That false knowledge is a lie told to us to keep us from being released into fruitfulness.

Dim Eyes

Sensitized eyes are on God. Dim eyes are, conversely, narcissistic, and given to a kind of self-stimulation and self-gratification like someone closing his eyes to concentrate on his own fantasies and imaginations. When our eyes become dim, we become centered on ourselves and our own concerns. We become so focused upon meeting our own needs and desires, that we cannot see anything else, not even God. Dim eyes view the process of repentance—a process meant to restore—as an undesirable event that bothers self-sufficiency and the isolation of self.

If we do not realize this truth, our discouragement will soon turn to hopelessness, and we will begin to withdraw in shame from the very One who can save us.

Instead of wanting to repent, instead of delighting in the prospect of change, someone with dim eyes gives way to self-pity because it seems that God is requiring too much, or that He is asking them to give up too much. The essence of self-stimulation is giving yourself what you want, exactly how and when you want it. Wanting things our way will discourage repentance. People with dim eyes can often be heard complaining, “No one understands.”

The Bible warns us about not wanting to follow sound doctrine, but wanting to have our ears tickled and to accumulate for ourselves teachers in accordance with our own desires (2 Timothy 4:3). If we find ourselves more interested in looking for someone who will agree with us than we are in finding someone who will tell us the truth, then our eyes have become dim.

People are truly repentant when they say, “I’m wrong …How do I not be wrong?” They do not try to justify themselves. They do not insist on their own terms and conditions. They do not resist the truth. They simply say, “I was wrong, and I don’t want to continue doing or being wrong, no matter what it costs me.”

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Category: Biblical Studies, Summer 2005

About the Author: Daniel A. Brown, PhD, planted The Coastlands, a church near Santa Cruz, California, serving as Senior Pastor for 22 years. Daniel has authored four books and numerous articles, but he is best-known for the sorts of resources that help local church leaders excel in their spiritual assignment. For more about Daniel Brown, see his ministry resources website: CTW. Facebook. Twitter.

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