The Joy of Repentance

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Luke 15:7, 10

[7] Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

[10] Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

We get really excited for people when they make changes in their life that are for the better, don’t we? An alcoholic parent decides it is time to go to rehab. A depressed friend finally reaches out for help and is willing to go to counseling. A son or daughter finally decides to get out of that toxic relationship that they have been in for a long time. We knew that these were changes that needed to be made in these peoples lives, and so we are excited and supportive.

But what about repentance? Are we just as excited about that?

If you are sitting there wondering what repentance is it literally means that you stop walking one direction and you turn around to go the other direction. Or in biblical terms, you stop putting your trust in yourself and living your own way, and instead you turn to Jesus and live according to his ways.

Many of us, who would call ourselves Christians, would of course say that we are excited when people repent and turn to Jesus. But if we go back one chapter in the book of Luke we get a clearer picture of what Jesus is saying in the verses above. Jesus says in Luke 14:33:

[33] So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

In Jesus’ mind, biblical repentance involves turning away from and renouncing everything that once gave us significance, comfort, hope, rest, and pleasure in this life and instead we now find those things in him.

Are you still excited about repentance now? Here’s the problem. Very often when we talk about repentance, especially as Americans, we are talking about adding Christianity to our life as if it is just another thing we do. It often serves as a self help tool to make our lives better so that we feel a little bit more purpose or we have something that gives us a little more hope in our lives. This isn’t the kind of repentance that Jesus is talking about, and it doesn’t cause rejoicing in heaven.

Jesus wants all of us. He knows that real life, real hope, real satisfaction, real, purpose, and real joy are found only when we completely give up our old ways of living and give ourselves over to him and his purposes. We stop trusting in ourselves and we put our full trust in Him. Or as we used to say, we now let Jesus sit on the throne of our life.

This is the kind of repentance that causes joy in heaven and this is the kind of repentance that causes angels to get excited. 

So do you want real repentance? If you are unsure let me ask you these questions. Do you want God and the angels to rejoice over you? Do you want real and everlasting life? And do you want to have a hope, purpose, and joy that can never be taken from you?

If so, turn to Jesus, renounce all of the things that you used to trust in, and give yourself completely over to following Jesus. For he is the way, the truth, and the life. And all that you need for this life and the next are only found in him and in him alone.


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