June 28, 2017 • Life for Leaders
Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
The Hebrew verb translated here as “return” is shub (pronounced ‘shoov’). It means, literally, to go back to a place you’ve been before, or to turn from one direction to another. If you’re driving down a road and realize that you’re going in the wrong direction, you’ll make a U-turn to correct your course. Ancient Hebrew would use the verb shub to describe your action.
From a spiritual point of view, shub is the core of what we call repentance. If you’re heading in the wrong direction, you might feel bad about your mistake, and you might even intend to do better next time, but neither of these captures the sense of shub. Genuine repentance, from a biblical perspective, requires a choicely change of direction, leaving the wrong way and heading in the right one. It’s not just feeling sorry or even sorrow. It’s changing the direction of your life.
The central message of Jesus involved this sort of radical change in living. He brought good news: “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15). “Repent,” as we have seen, means more than “feel sorry.” It means, “Turn around! Leave your old way of life and start to live with God as your king.”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Have there been times in your life when you made a U-turn? Literally? Spiritually?
What led you to leave one way of living to follow the way of God’s kingdom?
How might you follow the Lord more faithfully and consistently today? At work? At home? In your relationships?
Gracious God, thank you for giving even those who revolt against you the opportunity to turn around, leaving their sin so as to walk in your ways. Thank you for the grace and forgiveness implied in Isaiah’s invitation to return to you. And thank you for offering me this same opportunity.
Lord, though my first act of repentance came years ago, I find that I need to turn my life around again and again. How easily I get headed down the wrong road! How easily I wander away from you! Yet, by your Spirit, you call me back, inviting me to return to you yet again. Thank you!
Forgive me for my wanderings. Help me to turn to you ever more faithfully each and every day. May I live with you as my true King in every facet of my life. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Beginning of the Gospel (Mark 1:1-13)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.