How's life going? Let me ask, what's
the condition of your heart? Those two
do go together, don't they?
In the book of Joel, we find a prime
example of that with the people of God who have been rebellious, and God has
called out to them, first through pestilence, then through famine, through
drought, and still they remain faithless. So often, the Lord will use
circumstances to get our attention. Are we paying attention yet?
The Prophet Joel is given words of
warning to this people, the Israelites, and then in Ch. 2, verses 12-13 we find
"'Yet, even now,' declares the Lord,
Return to Me with all your heart,
and with fasting, weeping, mourning;
and rend your heart and not your garments.'
Now return to the Lord your God,
for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger,
abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of
"Yet, even now" - Those words show the true heart of God. He's so patient. He doesn't care where you've
been, or how faithless you have been, He says, "even now... return to me
with all your heart."
He's not looking for lip service or for show,
He's looking for a true repentance from the very heart of us. He's asking us to rend our hearts, not our garments.
Rending garments was an outward
expression of grief and sorrow to the Israelites and others of that day, but it
was, also, a sorrow that could be faked, in fact, when someone would die, you
could actually hire "mourners" to weep and wail for you, it's such a
messy display, after all.
That's not the kind of repentance God
wants from us. It's not the show of serving Him, it's not the display of being
a Christian. Sometimes, it's the one whose first and last
at a church service, doing all kinds of service, that need to hear His words, "rend
your heart, not your garments." I've
been guilty of that, serving out of a "self" motivation, or out of a
sense of obligation. Not from the heart. And, like these Israelites, I've been on the
Divine Discipline end of God's chastening.
He disciplines His own, we see that in
Hebrews 12 and other passages, where He uses circumstances to make us aware of
our need of Him. When divine discipline
comes our way we have three choices:
1) We can deny His voice and continue on in our sinful
lifestyle (you know, sins like: gossip,
slander, exaggerating, grumbling, complaining, and on the list goes). Which, if we do, will continue to be keep us under
His divine discipline, and suffer the consequences. In Ch. 1:12 it says, our "rejoicing
dries up." In verse 16 it says,
"Has not food been cut off before our eyes, gladness and joy from the
house of our God?" We risk living
without gladness and joy when we are doing our own thing, rather than God's
2) We can feign
repentance, and put on a big show, but with our heart still set on our own
desires we will continue to live under His divine discipline, being miserable
inside because our heart is far from Him, and He is the only satisfier of our
3) We can rend
our heart, fall to our spiritual knees in repentance. Confessing and moving
forward in renewed submission to His Spirit.
This seems the only real choice since the consequence is to be restored
to the loving fellowship with the Father, in all the fullness of His joy.
Why do we fight it? Self.
Just as His people wanted to follow what was right in their own eyes, we
do the same. He calls us, instead, to
take our will and submit it to His Spirit, to live in His will.
So, the question of the day, and every
day is: Will we rend our hearts before
If you will, know that He is "gracious
and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting
He abounds in lovingkindness,
Won't you render your heart today?