I love little unexpected surprises, well, unless the surprise deals with a diaper or a trip to the ER...I don't really like THOSE surprises. While perusing through the book of Joel, I was surprised by a verse that stood out to me. Now, I've read the small book of Joel before, probably haphazardly and half-heartily, which is why I never saw this passage before....
"Therefor also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting , and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful , slow to anger and of great kindness."
Rend....your...heart. What a beautiful thought! Why rend my heart? What does it mean to me to rend my heart, how does one do that?
Matthew Henry in his commentary on Joel says this...
"There must be outward expressions of sorrow and shame , fasting , weeping, mourning; tears for the sin that procured it."
This is true. When we sin, we ought to show that outwardly, but we fail to consider the inward working of repentance, which must come first.
1 Samuel 16:7 tells us that man looks on the outside, but God sees the inside. We can be so concerned with our outsides can't we? We dress them up, we take care of them...why? Because that's what man sees and for alot of people what man thinks is important. All the while our inward spiritual man is begging for our care and attention. If someone calls and says they're 30 minutes from my house and they're coming for a visit...do you suppose I will start deep cleaning the nooks and crannies? Worry about the bedrooms? Nope...I'm gonna worry with what they see when they come in the front door. I'm gonna be yelling at everybody to PICK UP! I'm gonna throw stuff in rooms with doors and lock them. And forbid someone want to look into those rooms. But God doesn't stay in your living room...he lives in your heart and he can see the insides, no matter how good the outside looks.
All things spiritual must begin with a right motive and an inward working to have any real fruit. Nature tells us the outside is temporal...this body decays. But it's what is on the deepest inside...the soul...that goes on forever...that goes back to the one who gave it in the first place.
No one likes repentance, really. If you'll be honest, you don't like to be told you are wrong, don't like to feel you are wrong, don't like to admit you are wrong, and certainly don't really like to apologize when you are wrong. That's human nature and we're all stuck with that. My husband says I never say I'm sorry...and when that irritates me, my response is "I'll say I'm sorry when I am." And sadly that's the attitude we take with God whether we realize it or not. Oh, we may not say it, but our actions speak volumes louder.
What God is saying here in this passage is that we ought to have an outward show of repentance, but before any of the outward means a hill of beans to HIM, we must begin to repent inwardly.
Henry goes on to say," When we are greatly grieved in soul for sin, so that it even cuts us to the heart to think how we have dishonored God and disparaged ourselves by it, and earnestly desire to get clear of it and never return to the practice of it, then we rend our hearts and then will God rend the heavens and come down to us in mercy."
All our outward actions mean nothing if we don't turn to God. I learn alot from my kids. When they say they are sorry, I know it's because they got caught...if I hadn't called them on it, I never would have known about it, probably unless one of them got to feeling a little guilty. 20 seconds later they'll do the same thing and then say I'm sorry again...rinse and repeat.
This is what my concept of repentance towards God is most of the time. Lucky for me, God has more patience with me than I do my kids. :)
when we rend our hearts, first and foremost, when we truly repent and AGREE with God that we were wrong, we are made better. We're more likely to turn away when that sin or temptation presents itself to us again.
Psalms 55:17 reads, "For thou (GOD) desirest not sacrifice, else I would give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God thou wilt not despise."
This is what God expects from his children. Samuel told King Saul that obedience was better than sacrifice. In the new testament, believers are told to offer their bodies a LIVING sacrifice unto God. All of these start on the inside and work their way out.
That's just what was on my mind the last couple of days, just had to get it out there if for no one else but myself.
I'll leave with Psalms 34:18 "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as are of a contrite spirit."
Have a blessed day!