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Feb 22 2010

Repentance – A Lesson from a Six Year Old

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, (Acts 3:19)

Many years ago when I was a little six year old, I lived in a small town.  I would walk with my friends to the town square.  No adults were with us, it was that kind of town.  It was a safe place for young children and  the town was small enough where it was the proverbial “everybody knew everybody.”  I wandered into the local pharmacy and was browsing.  I had no money but it was fun to browse.  Obviously I was in the toy section and came across a coloring book and crayon set.  Boy, that was one cool set that I wanted.  I took it and stuffed it under my shirt.  Unbeknownst to me, the store owner saw me swipe the coloring book and crayon set but said nothing as I walked out of the store with my stolen merchandise.  He let me leave with my stolen merchandise.  As soon as I walked out he called my mother which, obviously, I did not know at that time.

As I walked home, I was worried what I was going to do?  It’s not like I could sit at the kitchen table with my stolen goods.  I knew my mother would ask me where I got the brand new coloring book and crayons.  My stolen goods now became a burden.  As soon as I got home, my mother called me over and asked me what I did that day.  I’m standing there in my summer t-shirt with a coloring book and crayons obviously poking out of my little shirt.  I told her that one of my friends gave me the coloring book.  She then picked up the phone to call (or pretend to call) this friend.  Oh no, now everyone was going to know that I was a thief.  I started to cry and confessed my crime.  I was sobbing like there was no tomorrow but it was not from guilt.  Rather, my hysterics was because I got caught and I knew I was in trouble.  There was a sleep-over birthday party coming up that I wanted to go to.  Certainly my cries were not of repentance.  She then put me in the car and we drove to the drugstore.  I was told to march myself into that store with her at my side and I was to confess to the store owner that I stole from him.  At this point, I did not know that he knew.  Actually, I never found out until years later.  Crying, I walked up to the counter and handed the store owner my stolen merchandise and I told him “I stole this today.”  I was humiliated but still no repentance.  I was crying because of the humiliation of the whole thing.

After I confessed my crime, mother walked away leaving us two alone.  He came around the counter and told me that he was very hurt that I took something from his store without paying.  He told me that I hurt his feelings because he thought I was his friend.  He told me that if I really needed the coloring book that bad, I should have asked him.  Oh, did he make me feel guilty for what I did.  No longer was I crying because I was caught and was in trouble.  My hysterics did not change but the reason for my hysterics changed.  I now was crying because I felt the guilt of what I did.  I was sorry that I did something so bad as to hurt his feelings.  There was a change in my heart.  The outward hysterics did not change but the reason for my 6 year old hysterics changed.  I felt the weight of the guilt of my crime.

That, folks, is repentance.

Strongs’ bible dictionary defines repentant as “think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider morally to feel compunction.

Sure, anyone can choose to not do something that they know is wrong.  But the question is why do they choose not do do that “wrong?”  How many of us are speeding and if we see a police car, immediately slow down?  For the majority, it’s because we don’t want to get that dreaded ticket and not because we feel morally obligated to slow from 40 mph to 35 mph.  And honestly, I confess, I slow down not because of a moral feeling of guilt but because I don’t want a ticket.  When we come to Christ in a salvific manner, it is not because we are looking to get out of hell (though that certainly is what we want), but it is because we feel the weight of our sin.  It is a moral change in our heart with respect to our sinful state.

As the store owner spoke to me those many years ago, I distinctly remember feeling remorse not because I was caught, but remorse for what I did.   Because of my shame, I stayed out of his store.  One day he saw me outside with my little friends playing.  He called me over and I reluctantly went to him and into his store.  It was just the store owner and I.  I don’t really remember what he said but this is what I do remember.  He offered me a soda and we chatted for a little bit, me sitting on the stool behind the counter drinking a soda.  After I finished my soda, he gave me the coloring book and crayon set and gave me a hug.  I was set free from the shame of my crime and he became my most favorite adult.  Never again in my whole life did I ever take something that was not mine.  I don’t remember what my punishment was.  I don’t remember if I got to go to the sleep-over birthday party.  But I do remember, like it was yesterday, the guilt of my crime.  And I remember the feeling of freedom when the store owner set me free by forgiving me.  I hugged him back as hard as my little 6 year old arms could hug.

  • No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3 (ESV)

Without repentance, there is no salvation.

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  1. Margaret

    Tishrei,

    Yes, repentance is that convicting sorrow over having done something wrong…. In the burden of guilt is the realization that we have gone way beyond everything decent and good and right and loving….. We are thinking differently than we did before our crime……

    That storekeeper was a very loving man….. He was aware of the repentance of a little six year old….. And then, we can wonder about Esau as described in Hebrews 12:15-17, whose heart had become so hardened that later “he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.”

    When we hear God’s word and call to repentance, we need to listen and let our hearts be pricked over our sins, lest we become hardened….. This post is a vivid example of repentance and forgiveness.

    Margaret

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Margaret,

      I agree, that store owner was really a great guy. Repentance, is as you said, that convicting sorrow over what we did wrong. It’s really amazing to compare the before & after of our faith and how we view ourselves. What a radical and different view we have of ourselves after we come to faith.

  2. Liz

    “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3 (ESV)”

    I had an exp[ereince some what like that. When I was six as well.
    (Funny guess where I was living back then???? Ya guessed it IN THE CITY)
    Anyway My friend and I went to Seven Eleven a small drug store and she wanted candy we did not have money she said to put it in our winter hats and then stuff those hats on our heads. Well I do not know if the store workers knew but we rushed out of there and I got home

    My sister asked where all this candy came from, I said my friend was having a girl scout meetting and I got it there.

    Sad to say there was no remorse or wrong feeling of what I did. and no correction for my Mother was not in the place to do that.
    But to this day I remember and wish something like what happened in your case happened to me.

    I am thankful that The Holy spirit does conict and that There is forgivness and a chance to turn away from our sin.

    Agreeing with God our act was wrong and turning way from it for good.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Liz,

      I think most kids have done sometime like that when they were real little. I did not recognize it as repentance back then — just recognized that I felt bad and very guilty for hurting his feelings. It’s weird but it was not until I became a Christian did I recognize that what I felt back then was repentance over that action.

  3. Cheryl

    Tishrei,

    I came here from Zolaboard. It is interesting that you bring up the example of speeding and slowing down only when we think we will get caught. I used to speed and slow where I knew the policemen would set up to watch for speeders. One day in 1989 while I was driving into town God said to me, “I see you”. He told me that there was deceitfulness in my heart because I thought it was only wrong if I got caught. But whether I get caught or not it is still breaking the law. I asked His forgiveness and changed my way of living in that regard.

    It is amazing to me how many times I get laughed at or made fun of for driving the speed limit. But each time it gives me an opportunity to share why I drive the legal speed limit.

    I would not chance to disappoint the One who died for me just to get somewhere a little bit sooner. I want to be like Him.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi,

      I know it’s bad of me but I now drive within the speed limit because I don’t want a ticket. There’s a lot of work in me yet to be done :(

  4. Liz

    Tishrei, It is not bad but good you choose to obey the laws God has set for us on this earth. I wish everyone did.

    I do the same and kind of pride myself that when A police car does pass me I am going the speed I am suppose to.

    Just a tip if you do find yourself going to fast and you have not yet passed the police car tap on your brakes but not after he passes you he can see them in his rearview and then your in trouble.

    1. Tishrei

      Hey Liz,

      Thanks for the tip. What I have done is let off the gas and pulled on the parking break a little bit to slow the car down — no break lights doing that. My problem is not the cops that are driving but those that are hidden with the radar gun. Yikes.

      What I meant by “bad” was that I don’t feel morally guilty for speeding. I’m still at the point where I just don’t want a ticket so I stick within the speed laws.

  5. Livia

    Hi:

    I have a criminal record. misdeminor petit larceny which is killing my future goals. I committed a crime 2 years ago and I was not 6 years old. I was 27 years old, I stole a blender from a store and I was catched and sent to Jail. Being in Jail was the worst experience in my life. I went to jail for 4 days, I am very repentant for what I done. I don’t want to committ any ever a crime. I paid my punishment and I feel that I am still paying the punishment. All the doors are closed for me. I wanted to die but my daughter was my salvation. I don’t know how to fix this, I wish I can return it back to the pastand not do what I done. I don’t know if you all can understand me.
    But I am really sure is that I am very very REPENTANT.

    1. Tishrei

      Hi Livia,

      I’m sorry about your mistake and the consequences of that. I was six years old and the consequences paid by a six year old is vastly different than an adult making that same mistake.

      And yes, I can understand you. I can say that there have been things that I wish I could undo but I can’t.

      If the consequences that you describe is about getting a job, many employers do check. Sometimes an honest explanation to a potential employer is all that is needed especially if enough time has elapsed.

      I am really happy to hear that you are repentant of this. It is being repentant of our actions that causes us to not repeat them. When we come to Christ, that is exactly what He asks. That doesn’t mean we won’t goof but it is the repentant heart that distinguishes a saved person.

      God bless you,

  1. Repentance – A Lesson from a Six Year Old « Fruit of the Word | Drakz Bible Online Service

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