We love outward shows of piety and righteousness. We like people to know when we do something right. We also like people to know that we have repented when we do something wrong. We like visible shows of piety. But Joel 2:13 reminds us that the goal is a change of heart, not a change of clothes. You can make all sorts of signs of repentance. You can weep, moan, kneel, do penance, pray, and yet your heart remain untouched. Outward signs of repentance do not mean there has been inward change.
We like shallow repentance. We like easy answers, with little digging and little pain. We want to be forgiven and yet keep our sins. But Jesus tells us to pull out our eyes if they cause us to sin. Joel tells us that tearing our coats are easy. Giving a little extra money is easy. Kneeling is easy. Tearing your hearts? Not so easy. Gouging out your eyes? Not so easy. Cutting off a hand? Not so easy.
The good news is that Jesus is kind. He will grant us repentance if we seek for it. The real question this morning isn’t, “Will Christ grant us a heart to repent, forgive us, and help us turn from sins?” The real question is, “Do we want a repentance that deep?” Or do we just want to look repentant?
Exhortation before the confession of sin: March 15th, 2015.