This past Wednesday, the former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for the 18 criminal counts against him, including the attempt to sell the senate seat vacated by President Obama. That makes four of the last nine governors of Illinois to spend time in prison for crimes. It doesn’t bode too well for Illinois.
What got my attention in the Blagojevich case is his sudden turn of heart the morning before the sentencing. After maintaining his innocence for years, he finally faced up to his guilt, issuing his first-ever apology. He told the judge that he was “unbelievably sorry” for his “terrible mistakes.”
These words sound like repentance. But, because of their timing, they seem to demonstrate only his remorse at the punishment about to be handed down. Perhaps he was seeking a bit of mercy. How different it may have been if Blagojevich would have spoken these words three years ago!
I do not simply want to point the finger at Blagojevich. I want to use his example to press into our lives. Are you sorrowful for your sin long before anyone finds out about it? Or, is your sorrow manifest only when the consequences of your sin begin to hurt you? God calls us to repent from our sin, rather than merely fealing remorseful over the effects of our sin. The good news is that God will forgive all who repent from their sin (see Luke 24:47).