I know I keep bringing this up, but let’s get back to me and the pile of poo mentioned in “I’m Sorry“. I stood there in my kitchen raising my hands in surrender to my wife’s complaints about me, but it wasn’t real. In reality, raising my hands was my way of looking as faultless as I possibly could, and making my wife’s desires seem as ridiculous as I could possibly make them. Obviously it wasn’t real repentance. Real repentance would have involved some active listening to my wife’s frustration, and then following through on the things my wife wanted me to do differently.
King David wrote a Psalm right after God had caught him in adultery, murder, and cover-up. His response to God was truly repentant. He observed, You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51: 16 – 17 David knew God wouldn’t be honored (in fact God would be the exact opposite of honored) if he put on some repentant act. He realized God’s honored when we give up trying to look as faultless as possible, give up trying to make God’s desires look ridiculous, and give up wounding the God who loves us so relentlessly.
When God acts in love, and places a mirror in front of our face so as to help us recognize our need for correction, He doesn’t want an act. God wants an authentic response to His concerns.