What I like about Joel: The inner nature of repentance
As an undergrad, I minored in German. That has nothing to do with this post, except to introduce a girl who was in one of my German classes. I don't remember her name or even what class it was, but I remember that she missed a LOT of classes, ostensibly because she was sick. On the days she was in class, she often went to great lengths to let the rest of us know that she was on the brink of death. (Please note: If I had even the slightest feeling that she was actually sick, I'd be a lot nicer. I'm fairly convinced that most of her illnesses were brought about by alcohol consumption paired with an aversion to early-morning classes.)
One of the ways she signaled her under-the-weather-ness to us was to put on all her makeup - except for eye makeup. I later noticed that this was a common signal for "I'm too sick to put on my mascara, but there's no way I'm letting you see me without the rest of my makeup." My contention always was that if you are well enough to put on base and powder, you're well enough to put on mascara. The point wasn't that she was sick, it was that she wanted us to think she was sick.
That's round-about way to get to my point about Joel. The people of Judah had gotten really good at leaving their mascara off. They could put on sackcloth and weep and wail and moan and tear their robes, but all that posturing did not necessarily mean anything. Joel's call for repentance included the outward signs of mourning, but he urged an inner repentance along with the outward signs. All the sackcloth and wailing in the world meant nothing unless it was paired with real sorrow and a real recognition of Judah's sin.
Unfortunately, this makes me reflect on my own "repentance." How often do I put on the outward signs of sorrow, without feeling anything deeper? Joel serves as a reminded that God sees the heart, not the garnishes. The doctor is not fooled by the makeup.
Verse of the post: "'Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.' Rend your heart and not your garments." Joel 2:12-13
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