“John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” Mark 1:4

If you ask a group of people what the word repentance means the most common answer you’ll get is that it’s being sorry for something you’ve done. But being sorry is just a small part of most people’s experience of repentance. In fact, there are many that experience genuine sorrow for the sinful choices they’ve made and still fall short of being repentant.

You see sorrow for sin is the motivation for repentance. The rest of repentance, and in my way of thinking, the most important part, is the choosing to turn away from doing what is wrong and choosing to do what is right.

So many times I’ve tried to accomplish repentance with only half of that formula. I attempted to reform my behavior by just stopping what I’d been doing wrong. Experience tells me that this is, as often as not, a recipe for failure. I may not realize what they are but I have reasons for doing the things I do, even the bad ones. And if I don’t make good choices to replace the bad choices I’ve been making I’m leaving a void in my life that is going to ache and cry out to be filled. Failure to take appropriate, healthy, thought out action is going to leave the forces of old habits and tendencies to work their work and will and it’s just a matter of time until that half repented of behavior returns.

I’ve even tried to do the second half without doing the first. I tried to add the good without removing the competing bad choices I’ve been making. That doesn’t work either. Sinfulness is just too seductive for us. If we’re to have success in turning from sin we must do both parts. We must reject and turn from sin and accept and begin to do righteousness. Half way doesn’t count. It’s all or none.

John called the people to repentance in preparation for Jesus’ ministry as our Messiah. Jesus is coming soon and the Holy Spirit is calling us to repentance so we can be ready. We can’t do it on our own so he’s here to help us do a thorough job of repentance. Half measures won’t measure up. Are you in it all the way?

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