God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. (ACT 5:31 ESV)
I suspect that most people don’t associate repentance with a gift. It conjures up thoughts of a somber religious response to our sin; as some a form of contrition and piety that we must work up as we commit to living a better life. In other words, it usually brings with it a heaviness to our spiritual shoulders, as some religious burden we must bear because we otherwise stand guilty before God.
This is the idea of penance rather than repentance. Repentance, as we learn from this text, is a gift rather than our offering to God. It is something he gives to us. The exodus of the Old Testament helps us see this as God’s gift to Israel was setting them free from their old lifestyle (which was slavery). Until we see that sin is slavery, repentance will seem like a difficult and unpleasant work of penance. And it will produce resentment rather than love.
Let us embrace repentance as a gift, and thank God for it.