Read Joel 2:12-17
Don’t Just Go Through The Motions
“So rend your heart, and not your garments” (Joel 2:13). What a mental image! Tearing one’s clothes was an outward sign of contrition and grief, but if such actions are not accompanied with true inward emotion, what purpose does it serve? Jesus warns against such outward posturing without the proper inward renewal as He quotes Isaiah to the superficial Pharisees: “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8-9).
A person can go through all the right motions on Sunday. He can say all the right words in prayer, sing songs that teach truth and do so without mechanical instruments of music, eat the bread and drink the fruit of the vine during the Lord’s Supper, turn to every passage of Scripture mentioned by the preacher, and give a large portion of his financial blessings every single Sunday, but if his heart is not in it, has he truly worshiped acceptably?
We may be tempted to remove emotion from our Christian duty because it can be blown out of proportion. There are certainly people who rely solely upon emotions and do not take into account the actual revelation God made through the inspired writers of long ago. It is dangerous to go to that extreme, but it is equally dangerous to remove emotion altogether. What did Jesus tell the Samaritan woman? “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). To have one without the other is incomplete worship.
When we come to God, whether in worship or in repentance, we must have a humble heart of submission. “So rend your heart, and not your garments.” Our sorrow much not be outward only. We must humble ourselves to do whatever God says in His Word. For those who are coming to Him for the first time, confess your belief in the Son, repent of your sins, and be immersed to have those sins washed away. For those who are already a part of God’s family, when you stumble into sin, confess those to the Father and ask for His forgiveness.
Again, this is not something done for show. This is done with a humble, pure heart. Don’t just go through the motions. Do what He commands for the reasons He instructs.