My husband and I recently went to a Winston-Salem Dash game with our neighbors. To be honest, I don’t really get into baseball that much, but I do enjoy going to see our team. It’s fun to be with our friends and run into people we know. Plus, there’s my favorite part of the game—people watching.
Our seats were behind home plate. A few rows ahead and to the right was the dugout suite. This is an area that is set up with tables and chairs, and as the name implies, is right beside the dugout. It was empty during this particular game, but after the game started, several kids started playing in that area.
I watched this one kid who bore a resemblance to “Ralphie” from A Christmas Story. He was sitting on metal chairs that had hollow tubes on the chair back. He and his friend were sticking their fingers in them. “Ralphie” got stuck. His dad had to get up and help him get his fingers out of the chair. As soon as Dad sat down, “Ralphie” stuck his fingers back in the chair. Stuck again. Dad rescued again. By the time I watched this kid start the cycle a third time, I was cracking up (though admittedly, I would have found it far less funny, had he been my kid).
As I observed this boy, it reminded me of an important truth. We are all children who find ourselves in situations where we get stuck, and we need a Father to rescue us. But too often—as soon as we’re rescued, we do it all again.
When you read through the Old Testament, and I’m particularly thinking of the book of Judges,you see the Israelites in this vicious cycle. They turn away from God. They get in trouble. They cry out to God for help. God rescues them. The Israelites get complacent. They turn away from God, and the cycle repeats itself. Sound familiar? I know I’m guilty.
While I may want to laugh about the antics of a little boy at a baseball game and facepalm myself over the Israelites, it’s really a serious matter.
Hebrews 10:26 states, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins…”If we hop down to verse 29, the ramifications of our sins-set-on-repeat are outlined, “How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”
That’s a pretty sobering thought. We know the blood of Jesus has cleansed us of sin, yet when we continue to repeat sin, we have thrown great insult on our Savior. Jesus knows we aren’t perfect and He knows we’re going to mess up. But there’s a difference between a slip-up and then willfully sinning, again and again, expecting to be repeatedly forgiven for the same thing. Because here’s the truth that’s been muddied over time…God doesn’t forgive us so we can keep sinning. We ask for forgiveness so we can stop.
Otherwise, it’s not repentance. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.”
That’s the key phrase—“godly grief.”When we don’t dismiss our actions with a casual “Oops! I did it again!” but experience a deep sorrow from the choices we’ve made, and a desire to turn away from that sin (as described in Acts 3:19)—that’s a repentant heart.
Friends, we all have stumbling blocks. And on our own, we will keep tripping over the same sins. But we have the promise of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”