One day as I was studying the book of Revelation, I noticed something very important. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19) As I meditated upon this phrase, I noticed that Jesus told five of the seven churches the same thing. ‘Repent of the sin in your life turn back to God.’
What does it mean to repent? The word ‘repentance’ means to have a complete change of mind.
Occasionally, I hear someone say that they need to make a ‘360 degree turn.’ I chuckle to myself whenever I hear this because I know that they do not really understand what they are saying. You see, to turn 360 degrees is to make a complete revolution. It is to end up right where you first began. What they mean to say is – ‘they need to make a 180 degree turn.’ To turn 180 degrees means that we turn and begin to go in the opposite direction.
As I think of this, my mind goes to a story found in the Bible. One day as Jesus was traveling, He came upon a man sitting in a tree. Many of you know, the man’s name was Zacchaeus and he had climbed the tree because he was a little man and there were too many people obscuring his view of Jesus.
Jesus commanded him to come down so that the Lord and His disciples might eat dinner at his house that day. What we sometimes overlook in the story is how Zacchaeus responded to this encounter with Jesus.
“Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8 NIV)
Zacchaeus was not trying to buy his way into heaven. He was demonstrating a change in heart. As a tax collector, he had no doubt cheated and overcharged many people. In repentance of his sin, he promised to no longer cheat people and to restore four-fold anything he had taken unjustly.
As you can see, I entitled today’s study – ‘Yield and Make a U-Turn.’ Whenever we make a U-Turn, we turn and begin going in the opposite direction. That’s what it means to repent. It does not mean to turn 360 degrees and keep going in the same direction. It means to turn 180 degrees and begin going in the opposite direction.