Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887) said of repentance,
When a man undertakes to repent toward his fellowmen, it is repenting straight up a precipice; when he repents toward law, it is repenting into the crocodile's jaws; when he repents toward public sentiment, it is throwing himself into a thicket of brambles and thorns; but when he repents toward God, he repents toward all love and delicacy. God receives the soul as the sea the bather, to return it again, purer and whiter than he took it.
Unfortunately, Beecher should have listened more closely to his own sermons. Although a well known and highly respected clergyman, he was reputed to have had numerous marital infidelities.
This Advent we Christians prepare best to celebrate the Son of God’s arrival on our planet with a repentance that goes beyond properly defining the term. We admit our sins without attempting to hid behind any excuse. We humbly throw ourselves on God’s mercy. We cling to his angel’s promise: “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10,11).