Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation (Gal. 6:14-15).
We can acknowledge the truth of God’s free grace without applying it to how we approach God for forgiveness.
We say that we are forgiven on the basis of grace alone and not through any merit of ours. But, then, we act as though God grants forgiveness only if we qualify for it by being sad enough for sin long enough to make God happy. We turn repentance into a merit badge that earns God’s grace by the depth or sincerity of our grief.
We need to be careful what we are trusting. Yes, we are to grieve for our sin and, yes, we are to be sincere about our repentance. But repentance depends upon the sufficiency of grace, not the adequacy of our remorse.
True repentance humbly receives God’s mercy, it does not strive to leverage grace from his heart by increasing the weight of our grief. Repentance is more a depending than a doing – more a leaning on our Savior than a measuring of our tears. Sincere grief for sin delights God; manufactured grief denies grace.
If we would know the blessings of grace, we do not point to our tears, but to Christ’s blood; not to our spiritual discipline, but to Christ’s provision; and, not to the sufficiency of our sorrow, but to the sufficiency of our Savior.
“Repentance” isn’t a good work to offer God to broker your pardon. It is sorrowfully confessing your sin and the inadequacy of your merits to satisfy God; then, turning entirely, humbly, and – ultimately – with joy to grace for the pardon and power to love and live for Jesus.
Father, may I never boast except in the cross of Christ! May I trust your mercy more than my merits, living in the joyous freedom and sweet devotion that comes from depending more on Christ’s sacrifice than my sorrow.