When you hear “repentance,” what do you think of? Often we mean little more than reading off our list of bad actions so that God will forgive us. Perhaps we go a little bit deeper and acknowledge our wrong thoughts as well. Both of those are good, but they’re not enough. Do your prayers go down to the level of your heart, not just your head and hands?
Do you share with God your hopes, dreams, disappointments, and feelings? Do you ever admit to God that you’re depressed because you didn’t get what you want? Or that you are frustrated because someone failed to recognize you publicly? Have you ever told God that you didn’t feel like going to church Sunday evening, or that you’re scared to share the gospel with your co worker?
I realized at a certain point in my walk with God I wasn’t getting down to this level. I was dealing only with the surface, things I did or things I said or specific things I thought. But I wasn’t opening up my heart to Him and letting Him see my sin in all it’s ugliness. Doing this isn’t easy or fun, but it’s freeing, and it brings you much closer to your Father. So ask yourself, have you ever asked God to forgive you of your...
“A greedy man stirs up strife, but the one who trusts in the Lord will be enriched.” Proverbs 28:25
Do you ever catch yourself wanting something desperately that you don’t have, to the point you aren’t content? Ever been frustrated that you don’t have more money? A nicer house? Better friends? Nicer clothes? Ever been working through your budget and had to stop and pray, “Help me, Lord, I am sitting here wishing I had more money to eat out when you’ve given me so much. Forgive me of my greed.” Or have you ever prayed “God, that is a really nice car, and I find myself sulking because you haven’t given it to me. Please forgive me and teach me that you are all I need to be happy!”
“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
When was the last time you admitted to God you were struggling to believe His Word? That you didn’t know if you could trust Him to be good in all that He was doing? When was the last time you prayed, “God I don’t understand why you would do this. I’m struggling to see how you could be good and let this happen, but I do believe some, and I want to believe more. I believe; help my unbelief!” “Lord, I need you to show yourself to me in your Word and in my life. I’m struggling right now with whether or not you even exist and it scares me. Help me Father, I need your help.”
“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.” Proverbs 14:30
Envy is one of those truly hideous sins that we don’t really like to talk about. Envy is resenting the success of others. How selfish! How base! How carnal! How common. Have you ever caught yourself needing to pray something like “Lord, I don’t want her to do well teaching that Sunday school class because I don’t want her to do better this week than I did last week. Please forgive me.” “My sister got a new phone and I’m upset because I didn’t and I wish she didn’t have one, either. Please help me to love my sister and forgive my selfishness.”
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
Everyone knows pride is a sin. Which is why by this I mean specific instances of pride. Not just, “Lord forgive me for being a proud person,” but “Lord, I agreed to take the extra rotation in the carpool because I wanted everyone to like me, and I got frustrated when they barely noticed. Forgive me.” “Father, the whole reason I gave that devotional was so people would be impressed by what I was learning in my walk with You. How twisted. How wicked. Please forgive me.” “I’m upset at my kid because they’re making me look bad, and to be honest it really hasn’t bothered me or even occurred to me that the real problem is their sin is destroying them and shaming you.”
Believe it or not, it doesn’t shock God to hear these things from you, because He knows more about you than you know yourself. It won’t make Him love you any less or cause Him to think less of you. In fact, the honesty will be a big step in your relationship! “But praying prayers like these are embarrassing,” you may counter. Good. Sinning against God should bring shame and accepting that shame and looking to Calvary to cover the shame is a part of the growth process. But ignoring these sins or acting like they aren’t that big a deal deadens us to the work of the Spirit, impedes our relationship with God, and can lead to an apathetic Christian life. The most freeing and humbling and helpful thing you can do in these instances is to admit to God what is really going on in your heart and beg Him to forgive and change you. Be transparent with God!
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