Humility and Repentance

I confess that there are several parts of this Constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them. For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

Thomas P. Rossiter, Signing of the Constitution, ca. 1860-1870


Humility affords its possessor the capacity of repentance. Today the new House Republican leadership is overseeing the first ever reading of the Constitution in the House of Representatives. Those who called for the reading hope that familiarity will lead to fidelity and I suppose if the exercise is used as more than just another opportunity to posture, the potential for far greater things is there. I hope that they approach the reading in the spirit of Benjamin Franklin’s words and make whatever changes in opinion that might be necessary quickly and graciously to get our country back on solid footing.

While I am no Bible scholar, I do take a keen interest in it for many reasons. One of which is its linguistic heritage. The word “repentance” found in English translations of the Bible actually replaces three different Greek words in the original Old Testament text: the verb metamelomai, Metanoeo and the verb, used with the cognate noun metanoia.

The three words describe three distinct yet often homogenized (hence the use of one word in English) concepts. The first was used to describe a change of mind but not necessarily a change of heart. The second means to change one’s mind and purpose, as a result of new knowledge and the third is used of true repentance, a change of both mind and heart which produces a change in life expression. The shades of meaning are tremendously important, yet we only have one word that blends the three in English. Limiting, to say the least!

If heart and mind are divided on any issue, you are a house divided. Repentance is the most effective way to reconcile heart and mind and gracious repentance comes only on the heels of humility. If you think you are right, but find otherwise, make the change quickly in both heart and mind and cement the deal by a change of life direction. If your direction does not change for the better following a change of heart or mind, you probably missed something. Repent again. Repent more deeply.

While we’re on the topic, of repentance, most religiously inclined people associate it with sin. But what is sin? The word most commonly used in the original Greek Old Testament was “hammartia” which means nothing more than “missing the mark.” If your understanding or expression is missing the mark, take better aim! Don’t beat yourself up, don’t try to hide it, don’t throw out a red herring to distract the attention of others while you quickly re-aim, just gird up your loins and make the change quickly, efficiently and completely. No fuss, no muss!

Today will either be momentous or mundane. I hope that our elected officials see the opportunity for what it is and usher in deep and lasting change that brings us back to the original template established for our Great Nation. While I hope that you, dear readers, see this new knowledge as a means of making significant and influential changes in both heart and mind that result in a life expression that is more faithful to your life’s purpose.

12 thoughts on “Humility and Repentance

  1. Lydia

    What an interesting post. I really appreciate your straightforward explanation of repentance and sin too. My religious education always made it sound like repentance was like an apology but even as a child that always felt superficial.And don’t get me started on sin. Now there’s a subject that is used as a weapon.
    Having the mind and heart of the same opinion is sensible. The heart seems to have the sway when put to the test. Having an honest change of heart requires deliberate effort.
    Thanks Gregg, I have printed this and will give it more thought.


  2. Colin

    Wow, this is quite a lesson in the translations of some very important words. Isn’t it interesting how a translator can affect the course of history by a translation that doesn’t quite get the whole meaning across? I find that those who are the most willing to admit they were wrong and make a change with a minimum of fuss are the people who’s lives are the happiest. That’s what we’d call a clue. Thanks for another great one!


  3. David

    I actually prefer the format you were using via email
    rather than posting exclusively on-line. Your words of wisdom are
    always appreciated, but your reformatting causes me to perform
    extra steps to view them.


    1. Gregg Hake

      Thanks for your comment, David. A few of the email subscriptions dropped for no apparent reason in the transfer. You can still receive the posts via email. I’ll add you to the list again. Please let me know that it worked tomorrow. Thank you again!


  4. strawberryfields

    A few things I’ve realized as I get older are; there is
    always TONS more to learn, young people’s views can open up ideas
    you’ve you never could’ve imagined, your parents didn’t always have
    it right and most of all, it is ok (in fact often crucial) to
    change your thinking on something. I didn’t use the word opinion
    because I’ve realized you don’t always have to have one. Great
    post. Opens the doors for personal growth, at any age!!


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