Walking in repentance

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:14

When someone chooses the same career as their parent, we often say the child is following in the parent’s footsteps. To follow in someone’s footsteps means that person is our example, our role model, our mentor.

During this Lenten season, we want to walk with Jesus in His passion, but we do not want to merely follow in His footsteps. Although Jesus is the best role model, mentor or example we will ever find, He is much more. During Lent we see Jesus serve and pray, suffer and die. But our primary purpose for walking with Jesus is not to learn how to do those things. Our primary purpose for walking with Jesus is to see that He did them all for us. He did them in our place, to take away our sins. He did them as our Savior. So our focus in Lent is not to walk with Jesus, our role model. Our focus is to walk with Jesus, our Savior.

Although many different attitudes and beliefs can influence someone to walk with Jesus as a role model, only one attitude can truly influence someone to walk with Jesus as the Savior. That attitude is repentance. As we begin our Lenten walk with our Savior in His passion, we walk in repentance. This walk is humbled by our sinfulness and justified by God’s mercy.

We often fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other people, as if we are much better than others. Rather than comparing ourselves to others, we need to look at the requirements of God’s Law:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.

We have failed to give our God the total devotion and love that are rightfully His. We have trusted in ourselves instead of in Him alone. We have loved our own pleasures, material goods and entertainment more than Him. Even when we are faithful in church attendance, Bible class, devotions and prayer, our hearts and minds are not totally focused on him. We are not worthy of anything from God. May the Holy Spirit work in us the same humility that grieves over our sins.

It is a great joy knowing that we are justified by God’s mercy. We trust in the Lord for full and free forgiveness. We say, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” We know that even though we are unworthy sinners, God, in mercy, justifies us. The key to repentance is faith.

The Holy Spirit humbles us with God’s Law to empty us of our own imagined goodness. Then He fills us up with the Good News that Jesus has fully paid for all our sins and has freely justified, or forgiven, us. Walk with your Savior in repentance. Walk with Him as you fill your heart and mind with the Good News of what He has done for you. As you see Jesus hanging on the cross, think about His great love that suffers all this for you and me, sinners though we are. When you see Jesus risen from the dead, rejoice, because Jesus has paid for all your sins. As you receive Jesus’ body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, remember His death, the only payment that has turned away God’s anger and brought you His mercy. May we always rejoice that we stand redeemed before our Lord and Savior.