Morning, December 18, edited from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening
“And rend your heart and not your garments.” — Joel 2:13
Tearing garments and other outward signs of religious expression, are easily manifested and are frequently hypocritical; but to feel true repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Men will attend to the most numerous and detailed ceremonial regulations–for such things are pleasing to our self-nature–but true religion is too humbling, too heart-searching, too thorough for the tastes of worldly men; they prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly. Outward observances are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up: but they are ultimately delusive, for in the finished article of death, and at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than ceremonies and rituals to lean upon. Apart from essential godliness all religion is utterly vain; offered without a sincere heart, every form of worship is a solemn sham and an impertinent mockery of the majesty of heaven.
Heart-rending is divinely fashioned and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form, but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the innermost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of and believed in, but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating, and completely sin-purging; but then it is pleasantly preparative for those gracious comforts which proud, unhumbled spirits are unable to receive; and it is distinctly discriminating, for it belongs to the chosen of God, and to them alone.
The text commands us to rend our hearts, but they are naturally hard as marble: how, then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary: a dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once, and it is as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us hear the death-cries of Jesus, and our hearts shall be rent even as men rend their clothing in the day of lamentation.