Daily Thoughts : February 14th
Joel 2:13 Rend your heart and not your garments.
We've commented before on the difference between pretence and reality, the difference between outward behaviour and what the heart feels. God is looking for us to be totally honest and real. He doesn't want us to put on a show. He wants whatever we say or do to be a genuine reflection of what is on the inside, and therefore we are to ensure that, in trying to ensure our behaviour is right, we're also to ensure that what is going on inside is right as well.
Thus when Joel brings this work of correction, he calls the people to sort out their hearts, not just their behaviour. A Jewish expression of anguish and repentance would be to pour ashes over their head and tear their clothes. By this they were forcefully making themselves look bad, they were demeaning themselves, debasing themselves before the Lord. The only trouble was that you could put on this performance on the outside, but on the inside you really were not sorry and really hadn't repented.
Look, says Joel, God is not concerned with this outward stuff; it's your heart He is concerned with. Look, don't bother with your clothes; tear your heart, make sure your heart is broken over your sinfulness. God is looking for genuine repentance, not pretence! Don't pretend on the outside; be real on the inside. Beware responding superficially to God's word. Don't just stand up and go to the front, or whatever else the call required of you. Make sure that your heart has totally gone with it! If we have questions within ourselves as to whether we are truly sorry, or whether we have truly repented, then we should ask the Lord to show us by the working of His Holy Spirit within us. Sometimes an over sensitive conscience can make us feel guilty when in fact there is no guilt there. We need to let the Lord be the arbiter of our conscience.
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