Some form of the word “repent” appears 46 times in the Old Testament and 66 times in the New Testament. John the Baptist preached “the baptism of repentance” (Mark 1:4, Luke 3:3) and urged the people to “bring forth…fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8). Jesus spent time with sinners not to validate their decisions, but to help them change. (See Mark 2:17, Luke 5:32.) After the Savior’s death and resurrection, Peter and the other apostles continued to call on people to repent. (See Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19.)
The word appears 360 times in the Book of Mormon. The book opens with Lehi offering a prayer after hearing many prophets preach repentance to the people in Jerusalem. (See 1 Nephi 1:4.) Jacob, Benjamin, Abinadi, Alma, and others all carried a message of repentance to their people. (See 2 Nephi 9:23, Mosiah 4:10, Mosiah 11:20-25, Alma 5:31-33.) The sons of Mosiah preached to their enemies, the Lamanites, not to validate their decisions but to help them change. (See Alma 17:15-16.) Mormon ends his account of the ministry of Jesus Christ with a call for us to repent (3 Nephi 30:2), a call which he renews in the last chapter he wrote (Mormon 7:3, 5).
President Russell M. Nelson has urged us to repent every day. “Nothing is more liberating, more ennobling, or more crucial to our individual progression than is a regular, daily focus on repentance,” he said. “Repentance is not an event; it is a process. It is the key to happiness and peace of mind. When coupled with faith, repentance opens our access to the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ” (“We Can Do Better and Be Better,” General Conference, April 2019).
January 1 is a good day to repent. As I look forward to 2023, here are a few things I will do better in the new year. I know these changes won’t happen instantly, so I’m grateful for the process of daily repentance which will allow me to make incremental improvement throughout the year:
- Listen. This includes spending time with people, asking better questions, and avoiding internal or external distractions as they speak. It also involves responding more graciously to corrective feedback. I will also apply all of these concepts to my prayers. (Scripture: Mosiah 2:9)
- Serve. My wife loves community service and finds regular opportunities for our family to volunteer. This year, I want to step it up a notch, responding more quickly and enthusiastically to opportunities to serve in our community, at church, and at home, and inviting other people to serve with me. (Scripture: Matthew 25:31-40)
- Speak up. When I have something important to contribute, I will share it, concisely, respectfully, and with conviction. I will avoid watering down my messages and focus instead on being authentic. (Scripture: Doctrine and Covenants 33:8-10)
Happy New Year!
Thanks Paul! I love the connection you call out between repentance (turning toward / returning to God) and new year resolutions. What a wonderful annual activity to reflect on the past and identify ways to improve…and what a blessing to have President Nelson constantly encourage us to undertake this activity on a daily basis. I’m grateful for your thoughts and encouragement.
Thanks, Aaron! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.