Joel 2:13 Rend your heart
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.
This is a good counterpoint to yesterday’s verse. What we do and say is certainly not unimportant, but what happens on the inside is even more important. We don’t have the custom of tearing our clothes as a sign of contrition or mourning, the way they did in that culture, but the picture is still clear for us today. Going through the motions, acting pious, isn’t what God is after. We can become very skillful at deceiving those around us, and even deceiving ourselves, but we can never deceive God. One thing that can hold us back from genuine repentance and submission to God is the lie that He is not as He is described here. As it says in Hebrews, “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) If you don’t believe God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love,” why would you seek Him and try to please Him? That’s why the devil tries so hard to convince us that God is mean, capricious, and vindictive, when He is none of those things. When we have it straight who and what God is, and then who and what we are, it becomes a simple choice to commit ourselves totally to Him. Today I’m speaking on Commitment, from Mary’s response to Gabriel when she was told she would bear the Messiah. (Luke 1:35-38) She was able to do that because she had an accurate understanding of God’s character, and she knew He was to be trusted absolutely. If we have her faith, we will still sin because of our human weaknesses, but repentance will be immediate and complete, and that is what God desires.
As I keep being reminded, because I know “the motions” so well, I always have the risk of “going through the motions” without having a real change of heart. I’ve got to stay in focus, asking and allowing the Holy Spirit to shine His light into every dark corner of my soul, so that I won’t trip up over some hidden sin. I’ve got to be totally honest with Him and with myself, repenting immediately and fully of each thing He shows me that is not pleasing to Him. I am indeed to do what He tells me, as a good servant, but even more importantly, I am to be what He wants me to be, as a good child. I won’t follow through with either of those things if I allow my understanding of Him to be distorted. He is my perfect heavenly Father, and I am to be at total peace with that, trusting Him regardless of what my senses or my intellect might say to the contrary.
Father, thank You for this strong reminder. That was a very disturbing dream I had last night. Help me trust You fully and not hang onto anything besides You, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!