Thursday in the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time

Hebrews 12:16-17

True Repentance

The Preacher now broaches a subject almost in passing but one that raises some issues for us.  He just called us to “buck up,” as they say; not in our own strength, mind you, but in the Spirit of the Lord: To lift up our drooping hands and strengthen our weak knees setting our minds on our glorious and mighty Captain at the Right Hand of Power and imitating the great deeds of the saints of old who through the power of the Lord did so much for the Kingdom.  He calls us to peace in the church and to mutual responsibility seeing that no one falls by the wayside but that each and every one pursues holiness, that earnest desire God places in our hearts.

But just as there are good examples from the Old Testament, so there are bad ones: “See to it…that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.  For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”  Such a passage pulls us up short.  It sounds almost as if Esau wanted to repent but was rejected by God, nonetheless.  This is not what the passage is saying.

Let us rehearse the account (Genesis 25:29-34).  Esau came in from the hunt and was famished, or at least felt that he was.  Jacob was making a stew and, in a very unbrotherly fashion, offered Esau the stew for his birthright.  Esau voluntarily took the trade.  What does this show?  It shows that Esau despised his birthright selling it for a single meal.  He was willing to sell something so very precious for something of so little value.  Granted, he was later cheated out of his blessing by his swindling brother (and, most distressing, by his own mother, Genesis 27:1-45), but he had already proven himself unfit (also taking Hittite wives, Genesis 26:34-35; 27:46).

But does not the Preacher tell us that Esau wept and sought repentance?  Yes, but not true repentance.  Repentance may be defined as “a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ” (W. Grudem, Systematic Theology, 713).  Weeping is not enough.  There is godly sorrow that produces repentance that leads to salvation and worldly sorrow that leads to death (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Esau sought not God but the blessing.  And now I ask, how many of us seek not God, not His glory, but something else—even heaven?  Only a desire for God, His truth, His Kingdom, will lead to godly sorrow that produces true repentance—a turning away from self and sin to the Lord.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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