The Heart of True Repentance
Last night violence struck our nation as a gunman opened fire at a Las Vegas music festival, killing 59 souls and wounding more than 500 innocent people. It is the worst mass shooting in American history.
Gabriel has many family members that live in Las Vegas. They all have been touched by this tragedy in a deeply personal way. Our nation has been touched by this tragedy in a deeply personal way.
In times like these, our immediate thoughts are turned to our loved ones. Is everyone safe and accounted for? Our next inclination is to offer sympathy and to pray. Even then we need help to know how to pray—for on our own, it feels as though our words fall short.
Into this horrific situation a comment surfaced on social media that heaped injury onto those who were already suffering from the pain of losing loved ones; itself a grievous insult to those who were recovering from their wounds. A vice president and senior counsel for CBS commented on a Facebook thread that she was “not even sympathetic” to victims of the Las Vegas shooting because “country music fans often are Republican.”
“Not even sympathetic.” Wives lost their husbands, children lost their parents, kindergarten students lost their teacher—young and old, people from all walks of life were senselessly murdered and those they leave in the wake of their deaths will never be the same. Yet not one bit of sympathy—or empathy—could be found.
When I heard about this comment, I wondered what type of an individual would make such a public statement. In the heat of the moment, she made a callous statement against a faceless “enemy.” That’s how divided our nation has become. She could feel this way because “those” people were far removed from her world. She must have felt justified—a whole two other people liked her comment.
I was sure that she would feel some remorse—the outcry against her was bound to create some sort of retraction, and it did. But only after she was fired from her job and needed sympathy of her own against the outpouring of anger sent her way.
She offered words of regret, but were these words of true repentance?
Regret shows up when you’ve been caught. Repentance takes place when sorrow occurs through deep pain over your actions.
The Hebrew word for repent, “nacham,” is defined by these thoughts: “To draw the breath strongly, to pant, to groan, to sigh. To lament and grieve. To be sorry, to be moved to pity, to have compassion, to suffer grief.” This type of repentance has the other person in mind, not just your own desire for emotional relief.
The closer you are to the person you hurt, the easier repentance will flow from your heart. It’s the same in our relationship with the Lord. Walk closely with God. It’s His kindness that will lead you to repentance—repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret.
These truly are protective words of life.