Aloha Friday Message – September 13, 2019 – Relentless Relenting

1937AFC091319 – Relentless Relenting 

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    Luke 15:10 10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

E pili mau na pomaika‘i ia ‘oe a me ke akua ho’omaika‘i ‘oe, ʻŌmea! (May blessing always be with you and may God bless you, Beloved!) Jesus talks a lot about repentance, so we should probably assume he considers it important. There are about 100 occurrences of “repent” and its variants in the Bible. The words in today’s title can have a meaning similar to repent. Let’s start with the root word:

Relent acquiesce, relax, ease off, let go, moderate, show mercy, change one’s mind.

Relentless persistent, constant, continual, remaining, enduring, unshakable, frequent, recurrent, repetitive.

Relenting changing your mind, having second thoughts, going back on, mitigating the outcome, easing up, abating, being compassionate, relinquishing anger, softening punishment. Repent and relent can involve changing one’s direction, changing one’s mind, and making room for mercy. It is in the hope that “God will relent in his punishment” that persuades many to repent. Rather than be subjected to God’s just chastisement for sin, we hope to see instead God’s Mercy and avoid the punishment. There’s an old adage I have always considered wise advice: “The best way to get out of trouble is to stay out of trouble!” All of us know how very easy it is to make that one wrong decision to do what we know is wrong or to avoid doing what we know is right. Yep, that’s what I said, and common sense tells us that’s backwards.

We must (should?) always choose to avoid doing what is wrong and choose doing what is right. Fear of punishment sometimes helps us make that decision, but that’s not really the proper motivation, is it? What can we cite as the right reason for doing right things better and better things right? How can we consistently choose the good act over the evil act? Again, fear of getting smacked down doesn’t work often enough, but Love always does work. It works every time we choose it. When we Love God enough to choose him, to choose righteousness, to choose Good, then we chose Life. We know so very well that the wages of sin is death, yet we choose sin rather that obedience. Why does that happen so often? I believe it is because we so easily forget the tremendous power Love has over sin; that power was consolidated and proven for us at Calvary. Nonetheless, the other side of Love is when God relents and instead shows Mercy, and – as long as we remember that Mercy is Justice tempered with Love – God’s relenting is a great cause for Hope. Far too many people think of God as a mean old man who peers out the window of Heaven and tosses calamity onto people. The promise of punishment is really, really real; but the promise of Mercy is every bit as real and way more prevalent in God’s Word. Let’s take a look in the Bible for some examples.

Genesis 6:6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. Wow, that’s heavy! Those early earthlings had really perfected choosing to do wrong. Now, this was before Moses accepted The Law from the Lord’s own hand. God was already working on a plan of redemption, but part of that plan included a BIG correction of human errors. The folks back then did not even acknowledge any remorse over their disobedience. They just kept on sinning. In Genesis chapters 6-10, we find the story of God’s corrective action – Noah, the Ark, and the Flood. There are examples in the Old Testament of how God sent Israel Judges, prophets, seers, and kings, yet they still did not catch on to the importance of obedience derived from Love. There are many more examples of God relenting – changing his mind – and he is relentless about relenting. He never stops giving us another second chance. (← Check it out!) Take a look:

Genesis 9:8-17 This is the account of the covenant God made with Noah and his sons to never again destroy the earth by flood and the “sign” of that covenant is the rainbow (which God wants restored to its original and proper use!).

Exodus 32:14 14 And the Lord changed his mind [relented] about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

Numbers 23:19 19 God is not a human being, that he should lie, or a mortal, that he should change his mind. Has he promised, and will he not do it? Has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it? As in the Great Flood, God will do what he says if we do not do what he expects.

Jonah 3:10 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, [repented] he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. New International Version (NIV)  Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Jeremiah 18:7-8 At one moment I may declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, but if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, [repents] I will change my mind [relent or repent] about the disaster that I intended to bring on it.

Jeremiah 26:13 – 13 Now therefore amend your ways and your doings, [repent] and obey the voice of the Lord your God, and the Lord will change his mind [relent or repent] about the disaster that he has pronounced against you.

Joel 2:13 13 rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, [repent] your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing.

God clearly shows us he will relent if we will repent. Repentance is more than just feeling sorry, or remorseful, for our disobedience. How often have we heard it said of someone charged with a heinous crime, “S/he showed no sign of remorse.”? Remorse is one part of repentance. The other part is change. We have to change our ways, we must turn around and return to the Lord. When we do that because we know that he Loves us, and because he first loved us, we love him, then we can experience the relentless relenting of God’s Love as he again and again finds ways to show us Mercy.

When we are overwhelmed with the magnificent Power of God’s Merciful Love, we rejoice. God’s plan is that we should have help in that rejoicing, and Jesus tells us where that help originates when he says, “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.One sinner, just ONE! If I, if you, if we choose to be that ONE, then Heaven and Earth rejoice and all creation sings (See 1 Chronicles 16:31-33 and Psalm 96:11-13 and this Music Link) (↔ Music Link). God will relent if we repent – not just be sorry, but truly repent. I want to show you one more example of how remorse does not equal repentance – we will look at Judas Iscariot:

Matthew 27:3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented* and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders.

* [regretted, was remorseful; not the same as repented]. This word describing Judas’ actions is μεταμεληθεὶς (metamelētheis) μεταμέλομαι (metamelomai) {met-am-el’-lom-ahee} to regret, repent. Literally it means “I choose to change one care or interest for another,” or “I change my mind” (generally for the better), “I have regrets or remorse; properly, to experience a change of concern after a change of emotion (not action) and usually implying to regret, i.e. falling into emotional remorse afterwards. Remorse without repentance does not lead to rejoicing; it only leads to sorrow. We have the benefit of God’s Grace by which he relents, but if we refuse that Grace, we risk the wages of sin.

Our Key Verse for today comes from the Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. The Old Testament reading is from Exodus 32:7-14. This is the account of Israel in the desert as Moses is on the mountain, and they convince Aaron to make for them a golden calf. God’s anger flares up and he promises to destroy the whole lot of them and then make of Moses a great nation (thus “transferring” his covenant from Abraham to Moses). Moses pleads for Israel, and the passage ends at Exodus 32:14 14 And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. Moses interceded on their behalf, and then followed up with leading the whole nation of Israel to repentance and eventually to the threshold of the Promised Land.

God can, does, and will relent so he can show Mercy. We can, should, and must repent – through the power of Love expressed as Grace – and we can know Mercy. Certainly that is more than enough reason for joy in the presence of the angels of God. How exceedingly wonderful it is that we know and can share in that rejoicing because of the Love we share with God!

     1 John 4:16 ~~ So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!


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Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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