“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. Luke 15:17-19
“Say you’re sorry!”
If you have had or are currently training young children, you may have found yourself using this phrase. In the years I’ve raised kids, I have often felt like an NFL back judge trying to bring about some resolution during a crucial play. Telling my kids to “be sorry” is much different than seeing them choose that option on their own. As a dad and follower of Jesus Christ, I desperately desire my kids (and myself) to be sincerely repentant of sin. Repentance is more than just being aware of wrongdoing or feeling sorry. It is a complete turnaround.
True repentance recognizes a need for change, is emotionally moved by the impact of the action, changes behavior, and is sincerely motivated. Look closely at the story above, and you will see each of those components in the story of the prodigal son. Repentance cannot be forced as it is not a performance. It is also not just a feeling because it requires action. God’s Spirit brings about repentance when He lays conviction on our hearts. We must be in a position to hear this, much like the brokenness of the son in the story. Agreeing with God and making changes finish the process. Submit to true repentance and run from simply feeling sorry.