We seem to view confession and repentance of sin so lightly today. I find myself confessing sin as quickly as possible, and unfortunately, not always sincerely. The Bible speaks a great deal about the kind of repentance that will please God. That repentance involves more than us simply telling God that we are sorry we were caught. It involves a deep, heart-felt sorrow that will eventually result in a change of life. I was reading today in the last chapter of the book of Ezra. The rebuilding of the temple had been completed and it was brought to the attention of Ezra that there was a sin problem within the camp of those who had helped, and among the Jews in general.
The problem was that the Israelites had married wives who were not believers in God … from different countries and philosophies. Look at Ezra’s response: “Now when Ezra had prayed, and when he had confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there assembled unto him out of Israel a very great congregation of men and women and children: for the people wept very sore” (Ezra 10:1). There are some things about Ezra’s reaction that all of us can learn something about confession and repentance.
First, it is important to realize that even though we have not necessarily had direct connection to the sin, we still ought to have a repentant spirit. Ezra had not married a woman from a different country, but he was a leader, and those under his authority had. He began by confessing his own failure first. When you are ready to criticize someone else for something you see wrong in their life, perhaps you need to begin by asking God to forgive you for not being a better example. Maybe you need to confess that you did not do all you could to stop them from getting involved in what they did.
The second thing Ezra did was to show absolute Bible confession and repentance. Ezra did not lightly go to God and quickly ask for forgiveness. Look at what he did … “praying,” “confessing,” “weeping,” and “casting himself down.” Ezra displayed genuine repentance. His actions resulted in the people showing genuine repentance. What a blessing to see a leader humble himself to the point that it influenced his followers to live godly lives. We need to be this kind of leader today. Don’t excuse your sin, weep over it, confess it and repent of it. Don’t allow the failures of the past to control your present and future actions!
“Everything rises and falls upon leadership.” – Dr. Lee Roberson