Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous, therefore, and repent. Revelation 3:19
Repent – Have you determined to be 100% sold-out for God? That’s great. He wants you to have a zealous heart like His. But how do you accomplish this? Do you just make another vow to keep every commandment? Do you pray for more faith, bolster up your demoralized spirit and enter the battle once again? No, you don’t! You and I both know that try as we might, we will fail. Sin is an ever-present reality in the lives of believers. It is cunning, sinister and hideous – and it is always waiting for an opportunity to divert your attention from the Lover of your soul. God told Cain that sin was lying at the door, waiting to strike. It’s the same for us. And so is the step toward victory. Cain should have read this verse in Revelation. If you want a zeal for the Lord, begin right here – repent!
God does two things to create the opportunity for zeal in our lives. He reproves (rebukes) and He disciplines (chastises). We are asked to do only one thing – repent. The Greek is metanoeo. It is literally “to change the place of your mind.” It is more than regret and sorrow. Those are both good, and important, but unless there is a real change in mind – and heart – repentance has not occurred. Repentance is the negative side of return. Both are filled with Hebrew thought patterns. The Hebrew idea behind repentance is the emotional, mental, spiritual and physical distress that accompanies an attempt to influence a situation or person. It is about both the effective and affective sides of decision-making. Most often, repentance is cast in the context of human futility to alter the course of events. Only God can truly change circumstances; therefore, the ultimate object of repentance is God Himself. This means that only God can grant comfort as a result of repentance because, ultimately, no human being has the power to change the circumstances of my need for repentance.
The other side of repentance is return. Over and over, God implores us to return to Him. The word is used more than 1000 times in Scripture. It is the act of repentance seen from the hoped-for goal. Return is possible only because God is compassionate. His unfailing desire to forgive lays the foundation for remorse, regret, re-commitment and regeneration. But here is the key to it all: in Hebrew thought, comfort is never a function of words; it is a description of action.
To be zealous for God, I must begin where I am – with my sin. I cannot ignore it, excuse it, avoid it or minimize it. It is the bedrock of my human existence. But I can bring it before the throne of the Most High God. I can offer it with absolute change of mind, asking to be removed from this place of profane disobedience. He may actually drive me to this kneeling humility. When I arrive, I have taken the first step toward zeal. Now God can do something with me.
Why wait? Did you think God would forget to push?