THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN REGRET AND REPENTANCE

By Kyle Idleman

There has been much discussion over the last several weeks about change. We’ve heard a lot about changes in everything from politics and government to leadership and lifestyle. However, there hasn’t been quite as much discussion about personal change. Kyle Idleman writes in great depth about personal change in his book, “AHA: Brutal Honesty in the New Living Translation.” Kyle describes change as an “AHA” moment and described it as,

“Instead of self-help, we are asking for God’s help, because AHA is a spiritual experience that brings about supernatural change. More specifically, let’s define the word aha this way: ‘a sudden recognition that leads to an honest moment that brings lasting change.”

In Luke 15,  after the Prodigal Son came to his senses, verse 17 reads, “He said to himself.” There was no one else around. It was just him and the pigs. Sometimes the hardest conversation to have is the one you have with yourself. Brutal honesty begins when we look in the mirror and speak the truth about what we see. AHA requires you to tell the truth about yourself to yourself. The Prodigal Son said to himself,

How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father  and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants. (Luke 15:17-19)

He was honest with himself about what he deserved. That kind of honesty is difficult. The hardest person in the world to be honest with his the person in the mirror, and I don’t mean the lady who’s cutting your hair. I mean you. We’d prefer the awakening without the brutal honesty.

Avoiding brutal honesty will short circuit lasting change. When there is recognition without repentance, AHA doesn’t happen. When the Prodigal Son came to his senses, he dealt with himself truthfully. The awakening must lead to honesty. Conviction must lead to confession.

In an honest moment when no one else is around, you must tell yourself the truth about yourself and know that you are sorry.

This is the biggest difference between regret and repentance. Many of us will have an awakening and regret that things have turned out the way they have, but we won’t repent of our part in it. We regret that someone has noticed and pointed out our wrongs, but we’d rather continue to deceive them and prove ourselves right than actually confess the truth.

“Many of us will have an awakening and regret that things have turned out the way they have, but we won’t repent of our part in it.”

— Kyle Idleman

Our heavenly Father sees and knows all, so it’s not a question of getting caught. The honesty I’m talking about is more than a simple acknowledgement; it is a kind of brokenness. Yes, you tell the person who caught you that you are sorry, but you must go beyond that. In an honest moment when no one else is around, you must tell yourself the truth about yourself and know that you are sorry.

That’s difference between regret and repentance.

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