Keeping It Real
21 Days of Hunger -
Growing up in my neighborhood, there existed this popular saying that described a person’s integrity, transparency, and authenticity. Anytime someone began a sentence with the phrase, “I’m gonna keep it real...”, it signified that whatever words that followed that statement would be truth...even if it resulted in someone getting hurt or experiencing loss. If there is anything that the Lord desires in our relationship with Him, it would be “keeping it real”.
In the beginning verses of Joel chapter 2, the prophet Joel is prophesying the destruction of Jerusalem as a result of the judgement of God. The Lord is telling the people that his judgement is coming, and it will be terrible. In Joel chapter 2 verse 11, it says, “The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?” (NLT) The simple fact that the Lord told the people that judgement is coming is an act of grace and love. The truth is...God really does not have to tell His people anything. It is His loving kindness towards us that grants us an opportunity to realign our will with His will. He always gives His people a chance. His grace and love are absolutely amazing.
In verses 12 and 13, the Lord gives His people instruction on how to turn things around. With impending judgment on the way, the prophetic word given to the people state, “That is why the LORD says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’ Return to the LORD your God for He is merciful and compassionate, slow to angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (NLT)” I love the last part of that prophetic word: He is eager to relent and not punish! The Lord is looking forward to the moment when you and I make things right with Him. He is eager to relent and not punish.
Making things right with the Lord requires us to tear our hearts and not our garments. Sometimes, especially within religious circles, we can become so preoccupied with how other people perceive our spirituality and piety. It can be an easy thing to convince the people around you that you are fasting and praying because of your outward behavior, and yet, your heart can remain unchanged. God is not interested in how many people think you are righteous. He is interested in the state of your heart. Don’t waste your time “looking” righteous if your heart isn’t. Keep it real with the Lord. Keep it real with those who are closest to you. Rend your heart and not your garment because the day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing.
Don’t waste your time “looking” righteous if your heart isn’t.