“The healthy way to deal with God’s repentance call is to take personal responsibility. I’m not responsible for the wrongs of others, but I am responsible for my own choices and decisions.
I love playing basketball with Milton. For the past many years, Milton and I have played together. We’ve been on the same team in our church league basketball and shared many pick-up games. And we have gotten older and older.
Milton, like me does not want to lose. This former college basketball player knows what he is doing on the court and he plays to win. But, as our ages continue to increase, winning does not come as easily.
So Milton has to remind me and his other teammates of our responsibility. ‘We need this one’, he exhorts. ‘Pressure the ball! Suck it up! Play some defense!’ he demands. The fact that Milton is taller than me, older than me and often out-hustling me only sharpens my desire to go all out.
Milton and I cannot play as well as we used to play. We are neither as fast or as quick as the old days. But we are responsible to ourselves and our teammates for how much effort we produce. ‘Don’t let up!’ Milton implores. ‘Keep it up!’
We need some people like Milton in our spiritual lives. We need someone who holds us accountable and calls us to our best. We need a prophet who tells us the truth about our sins and tells us to repent.
John the Baptist was a prophet like that. His primary message was ‘Repent!’ Upon seeing the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he cried out, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.’ (Mt. 3:7-8) He didn’t seem to mind telling people to take responsibility for what they were doing.
Only you, with God’s help, can change your behavior. Others can encourage, others can pray, others can plead, but only you can make the changes. No one can repent for you. No one can ‘produce fruit consistent with repentance’ for you. Take responsibility for your own actions and life and allow God to do his work in your life. But don’t hide behind the masks of blaming others or ignoring your problems.”
From “Warriors in Hiding: The Surprising People God Chooses and Uses” by Doug Munton