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By Dr.Shermaine Sanders.

2 Corinthians 7:9-10, “yet I am glad now, not because you were hurt and made sorry, but because your sorrow led to repentance [and you turned back to God]; for you felt a grief such as God meant you to feel, so that you might not suffer loss in anything on our account. For [godly] sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow [the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe] produces death.” (AMP).

This is going back quite a few years, but when my daughters were little, I displayed most of their artwork on the refrigerator door. I was usually proud of their creative efforts…usually that is. However, there was this time, though, that I was attempting to paint the wood borders of my bedroom but I had to stop briefly to answer the phone in the living-room. I gave my baby girl one instruction, “Do not touch the paint!” You want to guess what happened? When I returned from my call, little “Miss Rembrandt” was working on a toddler’s masterpiece. Unfortunately, she had chosen my wall for her canvas! There on my bedroom wall were “designs” done with the paint that was intended only for the borders.

Now, believe it or not, I didn’t spank her. Although I was ready to let her have it! As a matter of fact, I didn’t even yell. No, this was one of the many times in which I decided to make my daughter my student and turn her mistake into the day’s lesson. And how did I do that? Simple. I just went and got a bucket of soap and water and a rag and gave my daughter a new instruction, “Clean it up.” Well, my little girl scrubbed and scrubbed, mostly to no avail. But she learned something important that day. We’re responsible for the messes we make. In essence, if you broke it, fix it, if you messed it up, clean it up!

Which leads to our lesson of the day in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10. It’s really about how to clean up the messes we’ve made. It involves that renewing, transforming process the Bible calls Repentance. You might say, “Oh, you mean feeling bad about what I did?” Well, not exactly.

The word “repentance” is defined as “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing; to regret.” However, biblical repentance by definition is a bit more detailed. I love one of its translations “metanoeo” which means “to change one’s mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge.” Its verb is used to denote “a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.” But many of us prefer the translation “metamelomai” which is used of a change of mind, regret or remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart.” (Example: Judas – Matthew 27:3, “When Judas, His betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was gripped with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. Saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They replied, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And throwing the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary, he left; and went away and hanged himself” AMP). He may have changed his mind, but taking his life didn’t change what was already in his heart. “Metanoeo” is to change mind, purpose, and life, not take it away. It is to deliberately accept your wrong, admit it and change it for the better. It’s more than saying “I’m sorry”, it’s a complete change of mind, purpose, heart, and life.

Look at verse 9 it says, “Your sorrow led you to repentance.” Feeling sorry is a good start on repentance, but it’s sure not the whole story. Verse 10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret. See what this godly sorrow is producing in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.” See, these people understood repentance. It’s not just a forgiveness-fix for your guilty feelings. It’s an all-out campaign to fix what your sin messed up. It’s the kind of cleanup that “leaves no regret.” Repentance doesn’t just bring it to an end, but it turns it all the way around. I love the quote “a bend in the road is not the end of the road unless you refuse to turn.” Repentance is more than bowing your head in sorrow and feeling sorry, but in the definition of the Naves Dictionary, it is “to make a complete reversal of ones attitude and values; a complete turning back toward God.” It’s not enough to say I broke it, repentance also fixes it.

Now, my daughter was quick to say she was sorry for what she had done that day, and she was forgiven. But she had to step up to the responsibility for the marks she had made. She had to do what she could to remove those marks. Well, so do you and I with some of the sinful mistakes of our past. It’s so unfortunate today that the church uses and misuses grace, mercy and forgiveness. It is not a bandaide you slap over a deep gash! You don’t say “I’m sorry, God forgive me, I’m forgiven, now let’s start over…but this time not get caught”. No, repentance changes you from the inside out. Why are we under the impression that we can do wrong, and God makes it right, only so we can do wrong again…just in a better way No! We have a part to play! Listen to Matthew 6, “In prayer there is a CONNECTION between what GOD DOES and WHAT YOU DO. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do YOUR PART, you cut yourself off from GOD’S PART.” (14-15 MSG). All the work doesn’t fall on God’s shoulders. There is a “connection”, there’s “His part and our part”. So just as in forgiveness you have to do your part and God does His, so in repentance you do your part and God does His. He forgives, renews and restores us. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have work to do on our part. Yes, my daughter said sorry, but she also had to get a rag, some soap, a bucket and water and get to cleaning up the mess she made. Why? Because she made it and it was her responsibility to clean it up. Likewise, God didn’t make your mess, you did, so stop expecting Him to clean up what is your responsibility!

For instance, if you’ve wronged anyone, would you obey the Spirit’s prompting to go back and make it right? If you took something, would you repay what you took? If you helped someone else sin by what you did, would you go back and tell them you’re sorry? Even if they don’t realize it was wrong, will you make right what your lying or your gossip or your anger did to someone?

When you make every effort to fix what your sin may have damaged, you complete the spiritual circle of repentance, restoration and healing. Now, this will require special grace and special courage from the Lord. But if He’s telling you to do this, He will give you everything you need to obey Him. The Lord who has forgiven that sin may now be pointing to a mess we made and lovingly saying today, “Clean it up.“

By making things right you can really close a chapter. You can actually say a firm goodbye to the sin of the past, and maybe really feel that great forgiveness that Jesus has already given you.

Today is a good day to get clean! Today is a good day to be made whole! You’ve walked around fractured and fragmented long enough, and so have the people you’ve hurt along the way. Take time today to self-exam and see the people in which you’ve damaged and ask God for the tools to help you make repairs. Too often families are destroyed, friendships are lost, opportunities are never recovered, churches are split and lives are severely injured, all because we don’t do our part in making our wrongs right. Maturity means I know I can go to God and repent and be forgiven and restored. But maturity in its fullness also means going to the person I hurt, acknowledging the pain I caused, admitting my wrong, humbly asking for their forgiveness, and changing ME so that I never cause this or any other like injury to them or anyone else again.

Think about it: If a toddler can get some water, soap and a rag and make a sincere effort to clean up what she messed up, what do you think God expects of us as adults? Just a small effort may mend the marriage, restore the friendship, bring unity back to the church, and peace to your own mind. Take responsibility and own up to your own accountability and bring forth fruits of repentance, you never know the tremendous harvest that you’ll gather from sowing such seeds.

“Never Ruin an Apology With an Excuse.” (Kimberly Johnson)

“Apologizing does not always mean that you’re wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego.” (Author Unknown)

“Sorry is not enough, sometimes you actually have to change.” (Author Unknown)

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].” (James 5:16 AMP);

“Pay attention and always be on guard [looking out for one another]! If your brother sins and disregards God’s precepts, solemnly warn him; and if he repents and changes, forgive him.” (Luke 17:3 AMP)

Today, put on your overalls, your work-boots, grab your tool-belt and get to fixing what you’ve broken!