This morning I found myself pondering some words which were flowing through my mind. I noticed one distinctive commonality in them. They all started with the letters R-E. In some cases, the RE takes a nice word, like union, and makes it sweeter, re-union. But in other cases, the word simply isn’t a word without the RE. I’d like to focus on the latter.
Romans 3:23 reminds us that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. There is no escaping that fact. Sometimes the sin in our lives is a recurring sin. When we have developed a habit of a particular sin, we must turn away from it. This process is called repentance. The only way we can achieve victory over sin is to admit we are powerless over it, and we must then rely on Christ for the power we need to overcome it. When we come to this place, we experience the cleansing power of redemption. There is no way to circumvent the act of repentance, so don’t even try. If you do, you’ll just end up right back where you were, only the consequences will likely be more complicated. There is a tragic philosophy out there that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission. God is not to be mocked. This is why the onus is upon us to take responsibility for our actions and turn from them.
When we determine in our hearts and minds to turn away from the things which separate us from God, when we are honest with Him and ourselves in admitting our sin, He is faithful and just to not only forgive our sin, but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9).
When we get to this place, we are renewed. He begins to build in us a new reputation. When I was 18 and literally only weeks into my new life in Christ, I was going through an interesting, and subtle change. Well, subtle to me anyway. I wasn’t going around in t-shirts with bible verses on them or anything. There was nothing I considered obvious about the life change I had made. But a friend of mine approached me in a class we shared and asked me if something had happened in my life because I was different. The work had already begun, and I had no idea! Without even trying, God was giving me a new and better reputation.
I had been redeemed. Everyone loves a great story of someone who was so mean and evil who, for one reason or another, turns their life around and becomes friendly. Charles Dickens’ timeless story of Scrooge comes to mind, among countless others. Redemption can only occur when we recognize that we are weak and not the best we can be. Redemption can only come when we commit to making changes in our lives.
When our sin has hurt others, part of this process may include restitution.Through this, relationships are restored.
When we go through these processes, we will end up better than we were before. There is something about experiencing God’s grace that compels us to maintain a relationship in which we don’t want to hurt or disappoint the object of our affection. Forgiveness breeds loyalty.
When we enter in to such intimacy with the Lord that we turn from the things in our lives which grieve Him and create a gap between us, when we walk in true relationship, He has great gifts for us. Eternal fellowship with Him is chief among them. You might even say it’s our reward.