True Repentance

Read: Joel 2:12-17

Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (v. 13)

Have you ever said you were sorry but didn’t really mean it? My parents would often make me apologize to my brother when we would fight. But although I said the words, I wasn’t really sorry. I rarely thought I did anything wrong.

God is familiar with these kinds of apologies. After describing the devastation that will occur on the day of the Lord, also called the day of judgment, the prophet Joel offers a word of hope for the people of Judah. Although there will be total destruction, because of God’s mercy and abundant steadfast love there is a chance they may be spared if they return to the Lord and repent of their sins. Repenting in sackcloth and ashes was commonplace for the Israelites, but God knew this kind of apology could sometimes be hollow. He explains the kind of repentance he desires is a rending of their hearts, not their torn garments. They needed to understand that what they were doing was wrong and to feel the weight of their sin against God.

God won’t make you say you are sorry. He is interested in your repentant heart, not merely your repentant words. When we acknowledge the truth of our sin, we can be renewed by the truth of God’s grace through Jesus Christ. —Kelly Slaybaugh

As you pray, ask God to help you repent of your sin so you may also receive the fullness of his amazing grace.

About the Author

Kelly Slaybaugh lives in Wake Forest, North Carolina, is a student at Asbury Theological Seminary, and an “empty nester.” She loves connecting with God through nature and outdoor activities.