Repent Ye! Repent Ye!

Suppose you where on a high school soccer team. Every year you play your archrival twice, once at the beginning of the year and once at the very end. The first game is a very close, hard fought affair. Everyone plays hard and does their best, but your team loses 1-0. At the end of the game, in anticipation of playing your archrival again at the end of the season, which would you rather have your coach tell you, after the dispiriting loss? “You couldn’t play any better,” or “You could play better.”

I was pondering this question while reflecting on the following verses from the Book of Mormon in Alma, Chapter 13

10 Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish;


13 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should humble yourselves before God, and bring forth fruit meet for repentance, that ye may also enter into that rest.


17 Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;

18 But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold, they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.

19 Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.


27 And now, my brethren, I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;


30 And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Repentance is little more that recognizing and trying to correct our mistakes, whether those mistakes are in preparation or execution. Correcting our mistakes demands we reflect upon what we could have done better in the past and how we can improve in the future.

Correcting our mistakes can be regarding fairly trivial matters like how we prepare for or play a soccer game, or the most weighty of matters, like how we raise our children or otherwise treat others, especially those we deem to be not “one of us.” In every aspect of our lives each of us has room for improvement.

The idea of repentance is too often associated with outward expressions of regret, or a public or private apology. Although outward expressions may be appropriate at times, true repentance is more an inward commitment, not an outward expression. True repentance is only knowable by the penitent.

Without true repentance, in matters trivial and weighty, there is no progression, there is no improvement.  Without a change for the better there is no change for the better.

Improving demands we humble ourselves and uncover our mistakes. And seek how to do better.