Braveheart has a scene where Robert the Bruce betrays William Wallace. Instead of coming in and helping William Wallace as they had planned together, Robert the Bruce sided with the enemy and turned on Wallace. After the battle, Robert the Bruce struggled with having made the wrong choice. He passionately told his father, who had convinced him to make the wrong choice, “I will never be on the wrong side again.”
Prior to this, his father tried to alleviate his guilt: “You saved your family. Increased your land. In time you will have all the power in Scotland.” To his father, doing the wrong action didn’t matter because of all of the benefit that it brought. Robert the Bruce replied, “Lands. Titles. Men. Power. Nothing.” In that scene we see true repentance. Robert the Bruce realized that he did wrong for all of the wrong reasons and would never do that again.
Similar to, yet so unlike, Robert the Bruce, we give up what is right for things much less than lands or power. We give up the right path for temporary and momentary pleasures. For a little extra money. For just a little bit of control. For a little outburst to get back at someone.
It’s easy to watch someone repent in a movie; it’s much harder to repent in real life. (Repent is churchy-language for turning back toward God and doing what He wants.) As long as you are not dead, there is still time to head toward God with your life. It is never too late to do what is right.
But it’s not easy. Sin stinks. (Sin is churchy-language for not doing what God wants you to do or doing what he doesn’t want you to do.) It leaves its stain. When we turn toward God and start doing what He wants us to do with our lives, we have the pain and destruction from all of our past failings to contend with. We can stop sinning, but the ramifications of that sin will continue on into the present.
This summer, we went grocery shopping. Nothing unusual about that. We thought we had unloaded the whole van, but, unknown to us, we left a bag filled with a half gallon jug of milk in the van. This bag went undiscovered for a few days. After discovering it, we decided to give it to the cats. This was when we were moving and the cats lived out in the country while the milk was discovered in the van while we were in town. I was assigned to give the milk to the cats on my next trip out to our home in the country. But I forgot.
The next day, after realizing I forgot and leaving the milk to ferment and expand once again in ninety degree outside of the van weather, I had remembered too late. The milk had fermented and expanded so much that it exploded out of its container. What a big, stinky mess we had on our hands. Rotten milk had spread through the carpet in our van. Horrible. So we quickly removed the half gallon container, but the damage had already been done. Damage that would take a while to clean up. The source of the problem had been removed, but the ramifications of the problem had to be dealt with.
Sin is the same way. If we don’t stop it early, the pain and destruction it will cause will only increase the more we ignore or don’t even recognize it. Sin must be stopped. Immediately. As soon as we notice the problem. That’s what repentance is.
So what is the half gallon container of milk in your life? What are you holding on to that you will regret like Robert the Bruce did? Jesus came to give us freedom from sin, but we have to be willing to give everything up for Him. We have to place His plan for our life above everything else that we value. It’s much easier read than done, but I know that God will give you the strength to be who he wants you to be if you seek Him and His will with all you are.