The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD; “Stand in the gate of the LORD’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place.’” –Jeremiah 7:1-15
Lent is all about amending your ways and your doings. As Lent is about repentance, it is necessarily about amendment of life.
I wish Lutherans understood this more clearly. We sometimes think repentance is just about confession—that we come to church to confess our sins, we are forgiven, then we go out and do the same darn things again. This is NOT what repentance is about. A biblical word, “repentance” means a turn-around, a 180-degree change of direction in life. For this reason, confessing your sins, being forgiven and then going off in the same direction misses the point. Not that we don’t, at times, fall back into sinful patterns and behavior after confession, but the intention must be for amendment of life—CHANGE OF LIFE! That’s what Lent is all about.
Of course, part of the problem may be that we don’t know how to amend our lives. We may see our sin; we may realize we need to confess, and set off in a new direction, but we may struggle with how, and which direction we should choose. Confession and absolution as practiced among Lutherans are useful in just this way. It’s not just about making a confession; it also provides the opportunity for considering how one will amend one’s life. Folks who come to a pastor for private confession are sometimes surprised by the question, “Now that you’ve confessed, how will you amend your life—what change will you make?” In every act of confession, we need to also consider where we’re headed after being forgiven.
If, during Lent, you are struggling not just with confessing your sins but knowing how to amend your ways and your doings, consider coming to your pastor for an honest, confidential conversation and pastoral counsel. Amendment of life is just as important a Lenten discipline as confessing your sins.
Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Amend your ways and your doings, and I will let you dwell in this place.”
Lord God, give us repentant hearts, and a willingness to amend our ways and our doings, that we may once again follow in faithful obedience; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Taken from Wendel, David, From Ashes to Easter, Ashes Lenten Devotional Booklet, North American Lutheran Church.