Rend your heart and not your garments. (Joel 2:13a)
Have you ever told God, “I’ll never do _________ again”? It’s actually a relatively easy thing to say to Him. Sometimes the statement comes as a kind of bargaining chip to get God to give us what we want or to do as we desire. Other times, it’s a statement of regret in the midst of seeking His forgiveness for something that we’ve done. Regardless of the use, it usually isn’t very meaningful, as it’s often followed by a relapse into the same behavior that led to saying it in the first place.
The words from Joel, “Rend your heart and not your garments,” are in reference to our broken promises. In the Old Testament, a torn garment was a sign of sorrow and remorse, but a torn heart meant that a person might actually change. It’s one thing to promise reformation, it’s another thing entirely to actually change one’s life.
“The truest and most acceptable repentance is to reverse the acts and attitudes of which we repent. A thousand years of remorse over a wrong act would not please God as much as a change of conduct and a reformed life.” -AW Tozer
Jesus died so that we would no longer be slaves to sin. We aren’t just forgiven for our sins; we’re also given the ability to overcome sin through the power of the Holy Spirit. God desires more than words of confession; He wants us to know the freedom that can be experienced through a changed life.
Father, thank You that I don’t have to give into sin and temptation any longer. Break my heart over my sin, and enable my actions to change. I can’t change them on my own, but I believe that, with the power of the Holy Spirit, I can be different. Let me rely on that power, and keep me from making empty promises to You in the process.