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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Good Old Fashioned Repentance

In a house with three noisy children, somebody seemingly always has to repent. As a mother, I am constantly forcing, teeth-grinding apologies out of my children.  I have heard from some parents, that they don't bother to make children apologize if they're not really sorry. Whether I am using the Dr. Phil method of child raising or not, I'm not sure, but I can get answers quicker sometimes just praying for and communicating with my children.

My middle child who is the most inquisitive of my three children, asked me about this "forced" apology thing one day.
"Why do I have to apologize, if I'm not even sorry?" My son asked glaring sideways at his little brother.

"Because you hurt his feelings" I said. " It's as simple as that.  The issue is not you all the time, it's sometimes just the right thing to do." I said, surprised that I actually had an answer--well --to anything this boy asked. It was a stimulating question.  Should you do what you feel (leave his brother hanging) which may be more honest, or just do what is right, and maybe feel dishonest?

My son with his usual smirk said "But Mom, isn't this lying?  Are you a precious saint of God, telling me to lie? I'm not sorry, he's a crybaby".

"Okay smarty, do we always do things based on how we feel?"  I said."When you hurt someone, you owe them, even if you feel they are a crybaby. Am I right?"

Then I launched into a list of things that I did not "feel" like doing either, picking up his clothes, reminding him about homework, and oh, I don't know, cooking his dinner---and this was more trouble than it was worth to him to keep this argument going. closed. This is a lesson in how to win an argument by guilt--Mothering 101.

This conversation  though (he did grudgingly apologize) made me think.

If I get angry and knock a plate out of someone's hand, I owe them an apology even if I think I am justified.   Have you ever heard someone say about a former inmate, "they paid their debt"?  Joe Jailbird can be unremorseful, he's not quite feeling the repentance thing,  but society (the law) said he owed a debt.
Now about us and God.  We may not feel we owe a debt to God, but the debt still exists every time we do wrong. The debt is piling up.   President Obama did not create the debt, but the debt became his responsibility once he took office. We become debtors  and take on responsibility for that liability once we realize that we are doing wrong. 

 A child may take cookies from a forbidden cookie jar and proudly come into the room with cookie crumbs all over his shirt.  He does not understand his actions. He is not trying to hide.  But once that child tries to hide what he is doing, he has become aware of wrongdoing and needs to apologize for his wrong.

We are responsible to God for our sins once he notifies us of the wrong we have committed against him.  Actually this happens pretty early in our life, so most of us are living off of credit. Unfortunately, we inherited this balance which only the blood of Christ can pay off for us.  It gets cleared by repentance.  The old chapter 7 bankruptcies used to do this.  God has something better.

In the bible, repent is to"turn" from wrong to do what is right; to turn so completely that I stop the action that led to the debt and go the opposite way.  No one would believe that a person has repented or is sorry if they continue to perform the offense...would you? 

Something to think about...

---Let's Live Holy---

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