A group of thieves broke into a building and stole computers and equipment. What they didn’t know at the time was they were stealing from a non-profit organization that helps victims of sexual assault. Once they discovered this, they felt bad for what they had done. The following night, they brought back everything they stole in a shopping cart and even included a hand written apology note which said (grammatical mistakes included), “We had no idea what we were takeing. Here your stuff back we hope that you guys can continue to make a differenence in peoples live. God bless” (ABC Local).
First of all, it’s ironic that the same people who were sinning called for God’s blessings. Aside from this, one wonders what was going through these thieves’ minds. Did they think returning the items made everything OK? Even though these robbers made a good decision in returning the stolen items, they were the ones who committed the felony in the first place. Sometimes people misunderstand what true repentance is. These thieves likely thought they were making things right and repenting of what they had done, even if they didn’t put it in so many words. However, it’s clear this was not an action of repentance, but just a rare blip on the conscience meter.
What does true repentance really look like? First, true repentance is a 180-degree turn (Acts 3:19). A person who is walking towards sin completely changes direction, putting his back to sin, and begins walking towards God. Second, true repentance is found in the person who is sickened by their actions and is committed to changing his ways (2 Corinthians 7:10). After sinning with Bathsheba, David wrote a psalm that perfectly displays this point (Psalm 51).
It’s fairly easy to feel and act “sorry” for the things we have done. Sometimes we will even go so far as to try and smooth things over with those we have wronged. However, let’s keep in mind that true repentance is about a sincere 180-degree change, feeling guilty, and being committed and determined not to repeat past mistakes. May we have the courage to repent and turn our backs to sin when the need arises.