Paul reminds his readers of the appropriate response to God’s goodness (we thought upon his goodness in yesterday’s reading). The required response is repentance. Of course, there are other reasons for repentance in addition to God’s goodness. For example, we should repent because of his righteous standards expressed in his moral law when we realise how far short we come of his required standards. We also should repent when we think about Jesus on the cross because he was there as the one who bore the punishment of sin. And we should repent when we think about the Day of Judgement in the future, a day that each of us will see.
Yet I want us to think about God’s goodness leading to repentance. What good things has God done for us? Did we have a good night’s rest, did we have our daily food, did we stay in comfortable house, did we have electric light and other facilities, and did we have peace in our homes and a whole range of other things? What did we think of these divine provisions? There are two required responses which God demands from us and they are thankfulness and repentance. It is important to note the connection between them because an ungrateful person is an impenitent person.
What does a person see when he repents toward God? Often people look with one eye, as it were, and see only his condemnation. Of course, his condemnation is very real and we should not ignore it. Yet at the same time we should have our eyes on the goodness of God in providence and on the heart of God who wants to show mercy. When an individual sees them together, he will be encouraged to repent; indeed, he will find himself being drawn towards God.
Clearly, such repentance will take personal sin seriously and will not try to minimize it or excuse it. Yet it will also be sensitive to the fact that sin has been against a kind God, even a saving God. Such repentance, therefore, is marked by sorrow. It involves the penitent’s feelings. While tears can be false, genuine ones will accompany real repentance.