Remorse for Breakfast
They slaughtered the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah and bound him in chains and took him to Babylon. 2 Kings 25:7
Remorse is a predictable response for most of us when we have caused some misery. If only I had known what would happen. If only I could do it over. In our discomfort, we swear we wouldn’t have done what we did, if we had known the consequences. In our disaster, we swear we will change our ways.
Would we truly have chosen differently though, if had we known? The problem is, that most of us have been here before and failed to change. We binge eat at night and then have a bowl full of remorse for breakfast the next day. Why did I eat all those chocolate chips? I’ll never do that again. Then, a week later, we’re back at it.
We abuse drugs, yell at loved ones, lust, lie, gossip and act selfishly, then in our regret, promise to change. I swear, this time I mean it. But our continued behavior betrays our lack of commitment to actual transformation. Remorse is simply admitting that we dislike consequences. Remorse, by itself, is not change.
I have often wondered, when reading the story of the fall of the Israelites, if they would have behaved differently, had they known the consequences of abandoning God. Today’s passage tells of the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians during the reign of Zedekiah, whose sons were slaughtered before him, just before his eyes were gouged out.
If Zedekiah had a shred of honesty in him, he must have realized his complicity in Israel’s downfall. He must have begged God for help. Get me out of this. I swear I’ll stop worshipping idols. I’ll do whatever it takes to change!
Most of us have uttered similar promises to family, God and self. The truth is though, we knew there would be consequences and we chose poorly anyway. The proof now, is in our repentance. If we are truly repentant, we will do whatever it takes to deny self and follow God today, so we do not have remorse for breakfast tomorrow.