Repentance Is Your Superpower

by | Jul 8, 2024

We’ve all seen the public non-apology apology. Whether it’s a college president, corporate executive, or government official caught in a misdeed or unpleasant situation, they all look the same. They acknowledge a less than favorable outcome, express wishes that things had gone differently, and assure us that they’ve learned from the experience. But these non-apologies miss one thing: repentance. They are absent any recognition of personal wrongdoing or acknowledgement that the troubling situation was caused or made worse by character flaws or blind spots. What’s communicated is this: “Yeah, the situation was bad, but it wasn’t because anything is wrong with me.

These “apologies” sometimes work. But they are rarely satisfying. They are crafted by public relations departments, and their purpose is to protect the accused. This shouldn’t be surprising given so-called “Cancel Culture” and the seemingly endless game of “gotcha” played by those on social media. This phenomena is an understandable defense mechanism for those in public positions. 

But what about the rest of us? Does this tactic work?

That depends on what we’re trying to accomplish. The goal of the non-apology is to protect the accused from consequences. But for the Christian, shielding ourselves from consequences is not our goal when we face an accusation. 

Jesus gave instruction to his followers about confronting those who sinned against them (Matthew 18). So, how should I think about confrontation and accusation of wrongdoing? I need to first remember that while Jesus gave me a tool to confront others, he’s also given it to you. If you come to me and tell me something I’ve done hurt you, you’re obeying Jesus. I need to honor that rather than downplay it. 

I need to obey Jesus, too. I need to remember that I have blind spots as big as logs in my eyes, and that if I think too much of myself and am stingy with mercy, that same standard will be applied against me (Matthew 7). 

This is where repentance can be something of a superpower for Christians. Accepting fault and admitting shortcoming is something the world seems unable to do. But that’s our starting point as Christians. No one gets to be proud at the foot of the cross, and that kind of humility is other-worldly and attractive. 

So, will this Jesus approach work in 2024? Is repentance the ticket to avoiding consequences, cancellation, and poor public opinion? Maybe. I have seen it go really well for some folks. People like humility, and this kind of counter-cultural accountability is really attractive for some folks. But it may not work. You may be canceled, shamed, and left unforgiven. 

But here’s the thing. We don’t follow Jesus because it “works,” if we’re defining that word as “giving us all we want right now.” That’s the opposite of how Jesus told us things would go (John 16:33). Joseph spent years in prison over false accusations (Genesis 39–40). Daniel was miraculously delivered from the lion’s den (Daniel 6). Maybe God will immediately and fully vindicate you. Maybe He will let you endure false accusations. Maybe He will sanctify you through the loving reproach of a friend (Proverbs 27:6). Don’t let your desired outcome shape how much you repent. Repent when you need to and trust God with the outcome. 

If your main goal is pleasing God, Jesus is your best guide, no matter the conditions. Our focus should be on integrity before him as we trust him with the outcome. After all, “What good is it for a person to gain the whole world but lose their soul?” (Matthew 16:26). 

Prayer Requests:

  1. Pray for humility to listen to your brothers or sisters when they confront you. 
  2. Pray for integrity to care more about following Jesus than avoiding trouble. 
  3. Pray that God strengthens your faith to trust Him with whatever consequences we face in this life.

 

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  • Austin Suter

    Austin is the executive director and editor for U?WP. He is a husband, father and seminary student at RTS Charlotte. Austin is a member at Iron City Church in Birmingham, AL. @amsuter

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