Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. (Mal. 3:7)
An old mountaineer was on trial for stealing a horse. His attorney did an excellent job of representing him and won the case. He told the rough outdoorsman, “You’ve been acquitted.”
The mountaineer scratched his head and inquired, “Does this mean I get to keep the horse?”
Like so many of us, the horse thief failed to realize that repentance involves changing our behavior, not just being sorry when we’re caught.
When the Lord invited the people of Israel to return to him, the invitation was set against a backdrop of their turning away. History showed a pattern of their turning away from the laws of God and showing enormous disregard for him and his ways.
Their response to his invitation was to ask the question, “How are we to return?”
God answered with another question, “Will a mere mortal rob God?” In the question was the implied answer: If you want to return, here’s an example of what has to change.
He gave another example later when he reminded them: “You have spoken arrogantly against me” (v. 13). It was another area that needed to change.
God is not looking for shallow responses. While he is willing to forgive us and restore us to his favor, he expects us not only to show remorse for our past failures, but a determination to live in obedience to him.
To stop drifting from God, consider what specific things need to change.
Ron McClung is a retired minister in The Wesleyan Church. He and his wife, Carol, live in Michigan and enjoy spending time with their sons, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.