“What is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded (v.14).
I was walking through a museum exhibit about the American Civil War when I came across a chilling item. It was a receipt, like what you might get from a shop. But this was for a slave named Sally, who had been received in good health from a slave trader. We’re horrified by the buying and selling of human beings, but these people were so oblivious to the ugliness of their sin that they kept the receipt!
I shook my head in disgust, not only for the despicable thing they had done, but also for the many times we brandish the receipt for our sins. We illegally download music or films, then refuse to delete them from our playlist. We lust after someone who is not our spouse, then replay the moment in our minds. We lose our cool and belittle a coworker, then brag to our friends how we “put him in his place.” Rather than feel embarrassed for our sins, we wave our receipt in the air and say, “See what I did!”
Real repentance eliminates “look at me” moments. It gladly gives up any ‘profit’ from what was gained (1 Samuel 15:13). Saul tried to look honorable when Samuel asked him why he had saved the receipt from his sin. Saul said he “spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle” so that he might “sacrifice them to the Lord” (v.15). When Samuel refused to play along, Saul finally admitted, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command . . . . Please forgive my sin” (vv.24-25).
Saul’s repentance came too late as Samuel replied, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else” (v.28). It’s not too late for us. Turn from sin and tear up that receipt. —Mike Wittmer
Read Luke 19:1 to learn what true repentance does with the profits of sin.
What sin receipts have you been clutching? What will you do to discard them?