With True Repentance

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He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
    he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
—Psalm 10:3

We start out every week with an inspirational lesson from the beloved Psalms. For centuries, these ancient poems of King David and others have been the foundation for Jewish and Christian worship. Enjoy!

Pablo Escobar was an infamous Colombian drug lord. He was responsible for murders, thefts, smuggling, and untold ruined lives due to his crimes. And yet, he was also a very generous philanthropist. He gave millions to churches and humanitarian causes in his home country of Colombia.

This stereotype of the charitable mafia boss raises an important spiritual question that applies to all of us. Can we do acts of kindness as a way of cleansing ourselves of our guilt? According to Jewish teaching, the answer is clearly no.

It’s true that the Bible tells us that sin offerings were sacrificed in the Temple to atone for personal misdeeds. But what many people don’t realize is that these sacrificial offerings brought atonement only for sins that were committed accidentally.

In other words, the sin offering was intended to atone for sins committed out of carelessness. So, what about sins committed intentionally? For that, only true repentance—changing one’s ways and confessing before God—is sufficient.

To put it simply, God can’t be bought off.

With True Repentance

Psalm 10 speaks of the problem of wicked people and the havoc they wreak. In verse 3, we read, “He boasts about the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.” In the Hebrew, it can be read this way: “When the wicked praises after the cravings of his heart; the greedy blesses, he reviles the LORD.”

Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, a leading rabbi in 19th-century Germany, explained the verse this way, “If a lawless man gives praise to God upon the fulfilment of his heart’s wicked desire, or if a man of greed should bless the Lord upon the attainment of riches, this praise and blessing is a mockery of God.”

While God certainly wants the wicked to repent and change their evil ways, He does not give them a pass merely because they made a nice donation. Now, I don’t assume there are too many mafia bosses reading this. But the lesson applies to everyone. We all make mistakes. And let’s admit it, most of us have even sinned on purpose on occasion. We must never think that we can simply pay God off without true repentance.

The good news is that when we come before God with true repentance and integrity, He welcomes us with open arms.

Your turn: Don’t be afraid of what you may have done. God loves you and wants you to draw close to Him. Share a moment of confession with God and experience His mercy and grace.

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