“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.
Return to the Lord your God,
For he is gracious and compassionate,
Slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents
From sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1
Acts of righteousness require genuine repentance that over-rides every thought and action of a follower of Jesus Christ. Repentance is the ability to deal with the deeper heart issues and not the visible actions. Repentance does not mean I stop sinning forever. What is does mean is that I feel genuine remorse for the sins I do commit. It is the “mourning” we talked about in the second Beatitude. And remember, we are told we will be comforted.
The Greek word for “repent” is “metaneo”. It means to change one’s mind,and to have a sincere remorse for one’s sins.
Each of us go through life as a transient (a temporary citizen of this world) on the way to eternity, while remembering we are made in the image of God. However, that image has been spoiled by sin, and we need to be taught how to meditate, to worship, to repent, to pray and to think. We desire to become deep in our spiritual pursuits. We want to grow in our commitment and the consistent actions that speak of what we truly believe.
The key to a stronger inner life is submission to God. As long as we think we can save ourselves by our own will power, we will only make the evil in us stronger than ever. It is will power that produces the “outward show”. Yielding to the control of the Holy Spirit is the opposite of self-will, and is the only way to produce real heart change.
The needed change within us is God’s work, not ours. The demand is for an inside job, and only God can work from the inside. Righteousness is gift from God. We place ourselves humbly in His hands so we can be where He will transform us. We follow Him and in following, change takes place.