Thursday, March 21, 2013

Repentance: A Process, Not An Event

Repentance: An Introduction

All throughout the books that we call scriptures there are accounts of people, cities, and nations being called unto repentance. We can see the difference between the way the Lord responded to those who repented and those who didn't. But in today's world we find that many people don't truly understand what it means to repent. What exactly is repenting and how do we move on? Is it simply asking for forgiveness of our past mistakes or is it something more than that?

First off: Why repent? 

Why should we repent? Why isn't our best effort on it's own enough? I know that no matter how hard I try to be the best person I can be that I have weaknesses and I simply cannot perfect myself of my own accord. So what is the point of life if we are all doomed to be imperfect? Christ once again has the answer to this question of the soul. In The Book of Mormon Christ appears to the people in the Americas and teaches them, and while there, He poses a question to the people. He simply asks "...what manner of men ought ye to be?" (3 Nephi 27:27). Directly after posing the question, without waiting for a response he gives His answer: "Verily I say unto you, even as I am." That is a tall request. His goal for us is to become like He is, perfect and like His Father. 

That is the main basis of why we repent. We wish to be like our Savior and he as commanded us to be perfect. He loves us and because He loves us we are able to have love for Him (1 John 4:19). He proclaimed "If ye love me, keep my commandments"(John 14:15). How can we show our love for Him if we aren't willing to follow the counsel from his hand to become perfect like Him? The scriptures show us all the things we should do and when we put them together we can find the way to do all things. 

Second: What is Repentance and How is it accomplished?

Now that we know why we need to repent, next comes the all important questions of 'How?' and 'Why?'. Is repenting simply asking for forgiveness or is it something more than that? I have come to know through my study and life experience that repentance is much much more than simply saying 'Forgive me'. The Lord has said "if a man repenteth of his sins - behold, he shall confess them and forsake them" (Doctrine and Covenants 58:43). We cannot truly say that we have repented if there is no change in behavior or a shift from our old ways. Repentance is always coupled with a change of heart, we can know that we are achieving true repentance when "we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually" (Mosiah 5:2). When repentance happens we are putting aside our will and doing as Christ did and saying "not my will, but thine, be done" (Luke 22:42). When our lives are in line with what the lord wants us to do we will be happy. The Lord wants us to be strong and to be able to, through his support move forward with our lives as we try to be like Him. A favorite verse, of many, in the Book of Mormon is in Ether 12:27. It reads:

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

What a comfort to me is the promise that as I do my best I can find the strength in the Lord to repent and overcome trials in my life. I know that I have had weaknesses strengthened and temptations overcome through His grace. It is my prayer that we can all rely on the Lord as we try to follow His counsel to be perfect as He is. I love the Lord and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve Him. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.