Wednesday, September 15, 2010
To render your heart
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
 and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
(Joel 2:12-13 ESV)
It would be too easy to see "rend your heart" as more of a "give your heart to the Lord". But when you look at the meaning of the word "rend", there is something quite shocking and striking about it.
To rend means to "tear (something) into pieces" or to "cause great emotional pain to" (Oxford Dictionary). To rend means more then I thought, which was to give everything to God. However it actually means to tear into pieces. And here God is saying that our hearts need to be torn into pieces instead of our garments. This makes sense if we know from other stories in the Old Testament where it was common to tear clothes and put on sackcloth as a sign of repentance. But the problem with this is that it can be counted as just another religious thing we do to justify ourselves with. But God wants more then just an outward sign of repentance - he wants our hearts to be torn, deeply repenting and feeling sorrow as a sign of turning back to God.
Isn't that astounding? God was calling Israel back to Him and be truly repentant, which can echo in our lives today. It is easy to go through religious emotion with our hearts never flinching. Yet within a relationship with Jesus, our hearts are warmed by the Gospel and they are called by the Gospel to be torn and broken in repentance because of how disgusting sin is and yet feel the soothing joy of the Gospel because of the reality of forgiveness on the Cross.