If you’ve been in church any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard the word “repent.” I’ll bet you even know what it means. To feel sorry or contrite for something you have done. When we confess our sins, we repent or say we’re sorry and will not do that thing again.
Good. That’s a start.
But there’s another way to look at the word “repent.”
The prefix “re” means to do again. Some words that use re include: redo, rework, rewire, reread. It means to do whatever it is again. For example, I could rewrite this message if when I’m finished it makes no sense (which is always a possibility!).
So the word “repent” begins with re. To do over. But then the question becomes, “To do WHAT over?” This is where the story gets interesting.
I remember from way back in my English teaching days, my kids had to learn long lists of Latin and Greek root words. The idea was that if they learned the root words, they could put them together and decode words that used those root words. It was a very effective way to learn a lot of vocabulary words very quickly.
One of those root words was “pent.” I went to dictionary.com and had to go the long way to find this. The Latin root pent comes from the Latin word pensar, which means “to think.”
Ah-ha. That was my first thought when I was listening to someone talk about this word. Wait, pen/pent means “to think.” So RE-pent would mean “to think again.”
For one moment let’s put aside what we normally think the word repent means, and let’s consider the possibility that it means to re-think.
When Jesus says, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” Consider what that means. Yes, it means to be sorry for the junk you’ve done and are doing, but it ALSO means, “Rethink your life! Rethink what you are doing, how you are living! Rethink this moment for you are no longer under the world’s dominion. The KINGDOM of GOD is here!”
Let me ask you. Are you saying you’re part of the Kingdom but living according to the world? Rethink that position. Do you get up and go to a job you hate because it pays the bills? Rethink that attitude. Maybe you need a different job, or maybe you need to start bringing the Kingdom with you to where you work.
Is your household peaceful? If not, maybe it’s time to “rethink” some things about how you’ve set up your world. Is your marriage in harmony? If not, maybe it’s time to “rethink” how you are treating your spouse and what you’re allowing to be in your lives that is not conducive to harmony.
To be honest, I love this concept because the truth is I am sorry for my sins, but sometimes it’s not the outright sin that’s holding me back. Sometimes it’s my way of thinking that is stopping God’s Life from flowing in mine. I need on many occasions to “Repent!” to “Rethink!” what I’m doing and why.
I invite you today to look at your life. What areas could use some “repenting”? Where might it be a good idea to rethink what you’re doing and why?
What are you waiting for?
Copyright Staci Stallings, 2008
Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a stay-at-home mom with a husband, three kids and a writing addiction on the side. She is a #1 Best Selling Christian author and the founder of both Grace & Faith Author Connection and CrossReads–a site where Christian readers and authors can connect.
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