Do Not Delay!

Mark Renfroe

Refusing to repent in areas God convicts us about is never good. Most of us would agree on that. However, I think many of us believe it’s okay to think about repentance before we actually submit to the Spirit’s conviction. What we’re really doing is delaying our repentance, and that can sometimes have a spiritual guise to it, but it’s just as poisonous to our relationship with God as outright refusing to turn away from sin. 

We probably all know the story of Jonah. He was given specific commands from God; instead of obeying, he started fleeing to the edge of the known, civilized world. God sent a storm, and instead of repenting, Jonah told the sailors suffering because of his delaying disobedience, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you” (Jonah 1:12, ESV). 

He almost sounds pious and self-sacrificing. In reality, he was still delaying his repentance. It’s not until he was in the belly of the great fish that we finally see Jonah relent and bow to God’s will. 

Jonah went to Nineveh and preached probably the shortest sermon in the Bible about God’s judgment. All of the people immediately repented and started fasting upon being told that they were objects of God’s wrath. The king then declared, “Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands” (Jonah 3:8), but we know that the people of Nineveh were already repenting because they believed Jonah, not because the king ordered it. 

Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41). God always gives us a message of conviction in order to bring restoration, but we must choose to obey. Disobeying or even delaying isn’t a neutral choice; it immediately moves us away from God. He is looking for us to repent quickly so he can restore us to a right relationship with him. 

Mark Renfroe and his wife, Amy, have been involved in field missions work for 30 years. Mark served as the area director for Assemblies of God World Missions and currently serves as the chief missions officer for World Challenge.