The first character trait we will explore is a 'spirit of repentance'. Jesus said that He came to call us to repentance. His call is for us to exercise a change of mind--a turning from personal motivations to His revealed truth. Without a doubt that is a most unnatural characteristic. Only a character built on Christ is able to receive the gift of repentance. It is a gift which initially brings great pain; but it is pain that is transformed into spiritual character. The blessing of a spirit of repentance far exceeds the initial suffering.
This gift is a depth of sorrow which impels one to change direction. Recognizing sin is not the same as repenting. Too often we see our sins and seek to justify or excuse them. We may experience regret--sorrow for the consequences but not grief for our pathway. A Spirit of Repentance recognizes that the choice to walk apart from God's revealed truth is the underlying problem. Regret sees the problem as the end result or the situation which prompted the diversion from God's path. Repentance recognizes that God's ways are not situational or conditional; His truth has an integrity that makes His ways work ALL the time. Repentance propels us back to His ways!
Believers in the early church were known to pray for loved ones to receive the 'gift of tears.' Such a prayer captures the spirit of repentance. Tears which flow from a heart broken by its own willfulness create a place of growth. God's grace and mercy sprouts bountifully in a heart softened by repentance. May we all receive this Spirit with confident hope in Christ and be transformed!