“Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

ANY “SEEKING” OF GOD THAT DOES NOT INVOLVE A REAL CONVERSION OF THE HEART IS BUT A MOCKERY OF GOD. Self-help books and the psych-up speeches of “recovery” gurus cannot by themselves make us presentable before God. Dressed even in the best behavior of our present spiritual condition, we are not fit to be at the banquet table of our Maker. We — yes, even we — must be converted. Deep change must take place, change so deep that it can only grow out of what is called “godly sorrow.”

This sorrow, which leads to genuine conversion (Acts 3:19), differs from the “sorrow of the world.” The latter is little but a self-centered, woe-is-me regret that we’ve brought so much unhappiness upon ourselves, but godly sorrow rises above self-interest and grieves for what our sin has done to God. It is an honest, God-centered recognition that what really needs to be changed about us is not our dysfunctional habits, but our rebellion against our Father. Godly sorrow faces the reality that without a radical conversion, we are lost. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2 Corinthians 7:10,11).

John the Baptist blistered the self-righteous ones in his audience who supposed that his call for repentance applied only to the pagans: “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7–10).

“Turn to God quickly and completely. Be converted to him. Do not keep procrastinating. It is a huge sin to expect God to be merciful while we continue a sinful life” (Richard Rolle).

Gary Henry — WordPoints.com + AreYouaChristian.com

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