"Repent!" That's a word that has been yelled from many a pulpit, screamed through megaphones, even plastered all over billboards. And it usually is used with a good deal of force. After all, the ones saying it often follow it up with the warning that if you don't, you're going to hell.
They have good reason to scream the word. But I wonder if we couldn't learn something from David, whom God inspired to write Psalm 32. Instead of screaming at us to repent, David appeals to our practical side and tells us: "Repent, you'll feel better."
You see, King David knew about repentance. This is the guy that betrayed one of his most faithful officers by sleeping with his wife, sacrificed some of his own men to cover it up, and murdered that man who wanted nothing but the opportunity to serve his king (2 Samuel 11 & 12). And then David sat on that.
Can you imagine the guilt, the shame, the stress of trying to keep that secret? Maybe you can. Maybe you are keeping a secret. Maybe you are in the middle of trying to cover your own tracks. David understands. That is not a fun place to be. In this psalm, he said, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long." He spoke of strength being sapped like it was the middle of summer. Guilt beats us up mentally and physically. So, David says, "Repent, you'll feel better."
On the flip side, being clean feels pretty good. It is nice when you don't have to make up a story but can tell the truth. It is invigorating when you know your mistakes aren't building a wall between you and your spouse, or your friend, or your God. Psalm 32 begins with that thought: "Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered."
Now the question is, how do you get from being that guilty person, to being the one, "whose sin the LORD does not count against him"? Well, for David, that happened when someone (Nathan) loved him enough to call him on his sins, to tell him what his sins were doing to his relationship with God.
That could not have been a fun conversation to have. But ask yourself, do you love the people in your life enough to remind them that what they are doing affects their relationship to God. They may not like to hear it, but look at the results in David's case. Verse 5: "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD - and you forgave the guilt of my sin."
Nothing in that whole story was easy. It isn't easy to talk to someone about sin. It is even harder to admit our own sin. But look at what happens when we do. David said to the lord: "You forgave the guilt of my sin." That's what he does. Because the price has already been paid by Jesus' perfect life and innocent death in our place, that forgiveness is ours. God is just longing to pour it out on us.
And that feels good. So, if you've got guilt hanging on... if there are hard feelings stirring inside of you... if you have a relationship that is strained (especially if that relationship is with God), do what David did. Repent. You'll feel better...in Christ.