Remember, Repent, and Recover
by Joseph Franks
As you contemplate the past, do you find yourself rejoicing in how the powerful hand of God worked in your midst? In days gone by, has his Spirit called you and used you in supernatural ways to touch and transform the lives of people? Wasn’t it exciting to be spiritually tender and available? Wasn’t it a joy to see yourself as God’s ambassador to the neighborhood or the nations?
Now, as you contemplate your present condition, do you find yourself befuddled over your compromise, your coldness, and your current chaotic state? Have you lost the joy of your salvation? Does the Spirit seem quenched? Have you fallen away a bit … or a lot? Does yesterday’s ministerial glee seem a distant memory?
Well troubled brother and sister, what ought you to do? It is my contention that you should open the Scripture, study the numerous examples of struggling, sinful saints, and follow their lead. I think you should, like Father Abraham, remember, repent, and recover.
In Genesis 12, Abram was the target of God’s affection, the recipient of God’s revelation, the appointed minister to the nations, the beneficiary of God’s gracious promises, the recipient of God’s gift of faith, and the one who responded with radical faithfulness. Abram was called to leave the world behind and follow God, and with great determination he began his sacred pilgrimage. Through him, God began the process of building a beloved family, a preferred nation, and a world-wide movement. Through him, God established the family tree of Jesus Christ. Through Abram, God continued the process of building his church. Yes, at this point in Father Abraham’s life, all was going fairly well. He was walking and worshiping in an exemplary fashion. Abram was proving to be a very faithful disciple.
However, by the end of the chapter, all was not well. The wheels fell off Abram’s Gospel bus. This faithful minister proved to be a very fallible and faithless man:
Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, for the famine was severe in the land. When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, “I know that you are a woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live. Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. And when the princes of Pharaoh saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. And for her sake he dealt well with Abram; and he had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male servants, female servants, female donkeys, and camels. (Genesis 12:10-16)
Abram, was one called to trust God. He was summoned to leave his father’s land and dwell in the land of Canaan. However, encountering great temptation by way of a severe famine, Abram made a host of poor decisions. He …
- Left his God appointed mission field and headed to Egypt.
- Feared man.
- Mistrusted God.
- Trusted in his own wisdom; he took matters into his own hands.
- Deceived his royal neighbor.
- Harmed his new neighbor and the entire neighborhood.
- Endangered and harmed the relationship he had with his own wife.
- Tarnished his testimony as a worshiper of Yahweh.
- Abram made too much of feeding his stomach, saving his skin, and padding his wallet.
However, God proved to be so rich in mercy.
But the Lord afflicted Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. So Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now then, here is your wife; take her, and go.” And Pharaoh gave men orders concerning him, and they sent him away with his wife and all that he had. (Genesis 12:17-20)
In the end, Sarai was returned, Abram was admonished, and he was allowed to leave free and with greater temporal wealth than he ever had. Yes, great was the mercy and grace shown by God towards his formerly faithful and currently faithless servant.
And what did the compromising patriarch do next?
So Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the Negeb. Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold. And he journeyed on from the Negeb as far as Bethel to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place where he had made an altar at the first. And there Abram called upon the name of the Lord. (Genesis 13:1-4)
Abraham remembered his calling, repented of his compromise, and recovered his great commission. The patriarch went back to the place “where his tent had been at the beginning.” There he built an altar. There he confessed his sin, rejoiced in God’s atonement and forgiveness, praised him for his mercy and grace, and supplicated his Divine Master. And from that point on, Abram and Sarai began the process of building God’s church and expanding the Lord’s kingdom on earth. The formerly faithful and formerly faithless minster, he walked faithfully once more.
My faithful and faithless friends, what ought you to do today? Why not follow Scripture’s lead and do that done by Abram, Moses, Samson, David, Peter, John Mark, and many others. Why not follow the lead of the elders in Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus? Why not submit to the instruction given by the Lord to the seven churches in Asia Minor? (Revelation 2-3) Faithful and faithless friends, Jesus Christ is calling and commanding you to remember, repent, and recover. God is wooing you back to him right now. There is no need to whine and wait. It is time for you to read your scriptures, leave your sin behind, and head to the mountain and altar of the Lord. It is recovery time, but first you need to repent.