Our minimum repentance is a limited act of kindness, mercy, or benevolence to a person (or persons) in need resulting in incremental blessing that produce greater awareness of God’s character as a loving God.
In the final days before the fall of Jerusalem Jeremiah was moved to reduce the requirements of repentance in order to simplify the expected behaviors that would forestall its destruction. After 25 years of ministry in which God demanded full repentance from idolatry, prostitution, rebellion, the final offer was a limited repentance without demanding full obedience to all the laws and precepts of God Almighty.
Jeremiah 22:3-4 New International Version (NIV)
3 This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. 4 For if you are careful to carry out these commands, then kings who sit on David’s throne will come through the gates of this palace, riding in chariots and on horses, accompanied by their officials and their people.
It’s a final offer and was meant to make repentance more palatable (and therefore more likely to succeed).
Because John the Baptist and also Jesus constantly called for repentance, I am also calling for repentance. And because Jeremiah allowed a limited minimum repentance to forestall the destruction of Jerusalem, I am also calling for that same limited repentance for a similar reason. It is a universal call for daily action for both Christians and non-Christians alike.
What does minimum repentance look like?
Purpose and prepare to help others in need on a daily basis. Set aside some small amount of cash to give to a beggar. Pay attention to your surroundings and try to spot someone who needs your help.
If you are a public official or have authority and power that gives you access to resources to help classes of the disenfranchised, then perform your duties with diligence and acquaint yourself with the needs of your beneficiaries and their improvements as a result of your decisions.
Why should we exercise minimum repentance?
For Christians, it is a way to fulfill the righteous demands of the gospel by putting our finances, time (and other resources with which God blessed us) to work to show others that God still cares for them.
Throughout the Bible there are numerous passages in which God demonstrates a keen interest in the welfare of the downtrodden, the exploited, widows and orphans, refugees and illegal immigrants. My favorite is Isaiah 42:3
Isaiah 42:1-4 New International Version (NIV)
42 “Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
When an injustice is done to someone, that person has been sinned against. If nothing is done about it, then the victim will think God has forgotten him.
For non-Christians, it is a way to ease into a life of righteousness by beginning to do the things that are close to God’s heart. It will help you develop a social conscience.
A social conscience will give you a heart that is tender toward the things that are right and just. It costs you little or nothing to do these acts of righteousness. Yet they can be done without additional commitment. Think of this as doing Random Acts of Kindness.
What do we get as a result of our minimum repentance?
Faith and prosperity
I have heard it said, “You can’t out give God.” I have learned from the various teachings from the Bible to give to various causes and ministries and to persons who needed help. One conclusion I came to was that however much I gave, I always seemed to benefit and gradually gained confidence to give more. This is a growing process that sends down deep roots in your faith. Growing in faith gives you confidence to move mountains.
Glorification of God
Many Christians think they have ‘arrived’ and do not need to do anything. Because salvation is a free gift, it is assumed that salvation is sufficient to the goal of the gospel. In actual fact, the goal of the gospel is the glorification of God through the obedience of faith.
Romans 16:26-27 New International Version (NIV)
26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith— 27 to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen.
So minimum repentance is a demonstration of our obedience of faith on a daily basis. And for the recipients it does glorify God.
If you are interested in things of eternal value then you must grow in spiritual maturity. For non-Christians, minimum repentance gives you a chance to grow spiritually and learn what are the eternal values.
Don’t confuse minimum repentance for something else. If you are seeking God’s favor, then there is nothing you can do or say that will earn it. God’s favor is called grace. It is unmerited favor and we can only accept it and receive it as a gift by accepting his son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This is the essence of the gospel.
As a Christian, there can never be enough growth in the Spirit. Day by day we strive to know God better and to serve him in obedience. Minimum repentance demonstrates our obedience of faith and brings us closer to the heart of God.