The Gift of Repentance
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate. Joel 2:13
“No! I didn’t do it!” Jane heard her teenage son’s denial with a sinking heart, for she knew he wasn’t telling the truth. She breathed a prayer asking God for help before asking Simon again what happened. He continued to deny he was lying, until finally she threw her hands up in exasperation. Saying she needed a time out, she began to walk away when she felt a hand on her shoulder and heard his apology. He responded to the convicting of the Holy Spirit, and repented.
In the Old Testament book of Joel, God called His people to true repentance for their sins as He welcomed them to return to Him wholeheartedly (2:12). God didn’t seek outward acts of remorse, but rather that they would soften their hard attitudes: “Rend your heart and not your garments.” Joel reminded the Israelites that God is “gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love” (v. 13).
We might find confessing our wrongdoing difficult, for in our pride we don’t want to admit our sins. Perhaps we’ve fudged the truth, and we justify our actions by saying it was only “a little white lie.” But when we heed God’s gentle yet firm prompting to repent, He’ll forgive us and cleanse us from all our sins (1 John 1:9). We can be free of guilt and shame, knowing we’re forgiven.
By Amy Boucher Pye
REFLECT & PRAY
How did you feel when you told a “little white lie?” How did the realization of what you did bring conviction and ultimately repentance?
Jesus, You died on the cross so I’d be able to live in harmony with You and the Father. May I accept Your gift of love as I speak truthfully.
Describing a coming “day of the Lord” (Joel 2:1) in which God would both decisively deal with evil and bring salvation to the world, Joel urged God’s people to repent and pray. For those in rebellion against God, the “day of the Lord” is a cause for alarm and fear (v. 1), “a day of darkness and gloom” (v. 2). “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” (v. 11). But soon after these ominous words, Joel described an entirely different way God’s people could experience this “day.” Joel reminded his hearers of who God revealed Himself to be to Moses—“gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (v. 13). This was a God who would respond to their repentance not by bringing destruction but by providing restoration and abundance (vv. 14, 21–25).
Monica La Rose