“Rend your heart, and not your garments” Joel 2:13
“Let all the house of Israel know, that both Lord and Christ did God make him — this Jesus whom ye did crucify.’ And having heard, they were pricked to the heart; they say also to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, `What shall we do, men, brethren?'” Acts 2:35-37
“The tax-gatherer, having stood afar off, would not even the eyes lift up to the heaven, but was smiting on his breast, saying, God be propitious to me — the sinner! I say to you, this one went down declared righteous, to his house.” Luke 18:13-14
“Wo to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye make clean the outside of the cup and the plate, and within they are full of rapine and incontinence.” Matthew 23:25
“But thou, when thou mayest pray, go into thy inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who [is] in secret, and thy Father who is seeing in secret, shall reward thee manifestly.” Matthew 6:6
Where did Jesus gain His strength from? We read that on one occasion a lady touched the corner of His garment and power went forth from Him. And we see Him consistently going away to be with the Father. Sometimes being sidetracked by hungry followers. The Bible teaches through the above passages and many more that it is through our secret inner life that we connect with God. Even the religious elite in action failed in their inner life. Shockingly, we have no idea what is going on in the inner chambers of our dearest friends and even our family. It’s a secret place.
This is a strange thing. It’s a facet of life that only One person has full knowledge of, God. The scriptures say about David, “Look not unto his appearance, and unto the height of his stature, for I have rejected him; for [it is] not as man seeth — for man looketh at the eyes, and the Lord looketh at the heart.”
One major thing about the heart is that we can’t control the heart. We can paint it, we can act nice and give gifts to others, we can show up in the right places, read the right books, but still we can not condition our own hearts.
This is why we needed a savior. This is why the beatitudes make since. This is why the poor have always been more receptive. This is why the Gospel is indeed Good News!
Yet, Jesus says to go into your inner chamber/ rend your heart. As soon as we come to the reckoning of our own sins and the failures that we have in our selves, we see an island in the distance of broken-ness and humility. It’s the place where we realize that our failures are too great to co-exsist with our pride; the forgiveness that is freely given to us daily is too great to hold others in contempt. It’s the awareness that bowing before the alter of God and recognizing His greatness is the only place where we deserve to be.
The scriptures say that we should come to the throne of grace with boldness (Heb 4). What a gift! To come unto the one with all-power and spend time with Him. Not by our merit, but by His own. He has made a way for all of us to come back into unity with Him.
And it is from this foundation that every building stone of righteous action gets it’s life from and maintains it’s strength. Never progressing past this place, only becoming more broken, rending our hearts, and beating our chest. Reaching others from this place. Retreating to the inner chamber as often as necessary.