Repent Small

By D’Ann Davis

“When you discipline a man with rebukes for sin, you consume like a moth what is dear to him; surely all mankind is a mere breath!” – Psalm 39:11

Little by little sin, like yeast, leavens the whole dough. Few of us make one big decision to build our lives on sin. Most of us make little decisions here and there as we increasingly harden ourselves to the Spirit’s call. Little decisions turn into big ones, and before we know it, we have built our lives around our idols.

In the midst of our sin, God is still merciful and compassionate, wishing none of us to perish (2 Peter 3:9). In His kindness He leads us to repentance, Romans 2:4 instructs. Our loving Father intervenes and disciplines us for our sins as He draws us back to Him. In this process, the psalmist tells us, He “consumes like a moth” what is dear to the sinner. What a severe mercy this is! Merciful in that He is bringing us home at all. Severe in that what we hold dear is consumed. The more we have built our lives around sin, the greater this devastation is.

One thing I try to continually preach to myself and to our ministry participants is to repent small so that we do not have to repent big. Daily repentance is painful. It is a crucifying of the flesh, a dying to self. But no daily repentance sting hurts as badly as a life dedicated to sin that must be consumed to be corrected. When we forgo our healthy relationships for sinful ones, reject time with the Lord for time with our sin, sacrifice our ministry and witness for the thrills of instant gratification, and arrange our lives in a manner conducive to our idolatry, then the rebuke and discipline required are of a far greater measure. We paint ourselves into a corner where now all ties must be cut, assets divided, phones rendered, numbers changed, jobs forfeited, areas of town avoided, or marriages devastated by disclosure. This pain can be excruciating, but it is soul-saving.

The psalmist comments on the fact that man is a mere breath. We are not God, our idols are not God, and our sinful pursuits will not last. They are not greater than God’s power to remove them or His will to redeem us from them. If we are so finite that we are a mere breath, how much more fleeting and vain is our sin! Let’s be a people who understand the folly of serving any master other than the Lord our God, Alpha and Omega. Let’s trust His hand as He removes that which keeps us from Him, even that which is dear to us. Let’s repent small that our lives might be founded on the cornerstone of Christ and not the sinking sand of sin. Let’s trust His goodness when He lovingly disciplines us, knowing that despite the pain it is for our good. He is a perfect Father who assures us, “For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives” Hebrews 12:6.

“Dear Lord, thank You for Your gracious hand that wounds us to heal us. Please help us repent of our sin daily that our lives might not be built around sin, but around You. Please consume that which is dear to us if it keeps us from You. Help us to trust Your hand, knowing You are good. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.”