Rend Your Heart

“And rend your heart and not your garments.” (Joel 2:13a NASB)
Joel was grieved over the religious hypocrisy of his day.  He saw the need for repentance that just did not tear their outer garments but broke their hearts over their sin.
One of the greatest enemies of true faith has always been a false religion.  False religion tries through self-effort to change our external behaviors to make ourselves good.  It seeks to improve us from the outside to the inside.  True worship always starts with the heart and proceeds to alter external actions.  The problem with changing our behavior first is that these modifications are never permanent.  When the external stimuli from religious peoples’ opinions and observations are gone, then we revert back to old habit patterns.  Why?  It’s because our heart motivation that drives our behaviors has never been changed.  We rend our outer garments as a smokescreen to hide the sinfulness of our hearts.
Self-effort can never produce a brokenness.  It is only God that can change a heart.  What then must we do?  We must first recognize our need.  We must see ourselves as destitute and spiritual paupers without any ability to save ourselves.  The Beatitudes tell us that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3 NASB). People who practice false religion never recognize their need and therefore are the most difficult people to reach with the Gospel.  Trying to be good enough to go to heaven is the fatal attraction of most false religions.

Are you trying to change yourself from the outside in, or the inside out?  If you are choosing the former, brokenness over your sins will elude you, and the rending of your heart will never happen.

Image used with permission by Microsoft.

Ken Barnes the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places”  YWAM Publishing

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