Unarguably, the decisions we make each moment of our lives have a way of making or destroying us- it can either make us better or worse. Again, our actions, to a great extent dramatise our decisions. The truth remains that our decisions, thoughts and actions cannot be separated, they work together to determine our choices and relevance; the nature of our relationship with people and all-round influence on our society.
Once in a while, we make up our minds to act in ways that leave us regretting at the long run. Though some people consciously decide to commit crime, giving themselves biased and selfish reasons for their actions ,in some others, the consciences is still potent in its regulatory role and ability to sharply differentiate between good and evil. God must have seen that evil shall abound and that people will have to decide what to do with life's numerous 'presents', before creating and giving everyone of us the abstract regulator in the form of conscience.
Conscience on its own is a part of the mind that tells us whether our actions are right or wrong. It actually makes us feel guilty for doing or failing to do something. Every normal human possesses this intrinsic ability. This goes ahead to highlight the fact that many wrong things done are just products of our corrupted consciences that have stubbornly refused to respond to it normal regulatory stimuli. I will want us to know that the conscience is not just enough in regulating our actions, but requires an external force that gives it a suitable support.
On a daily basis, we meet people who sincerely rue the effects of their actions and reactions, but soon forget about the 'torments' to be involved in similar, if not same events. Men and women are always quick to shed 'crocodile tears' as a way of showing remorse for something wrongly done, but are quicker to jump into the same act that supposedly broke their hearts. Our susceptibility to crime is not strange but can land us into serious mess when we don't consciously put it to check. The 'pleasures' of sin look so sweet that people turn their backs to the only source of real life. Our sinful nature, in collaboration with our faulty consciences regularly drag us into sin.
A broken heart is good but cannot take the place of complete surrender to God. According to the Bible, in the book of Jonah, after the delivery of God's warning to the people of Nineveh by the 'runaway' prophet, they reacted speedily. The inhabitants of the Assyrian capital believed God and proclaimed a fast, put on sackclothes, from the greatest of them to the least. When their king got involved in that 'celebration of guilt', he demanded that even the beasts be involved in the fast and putting on of sackclothes(one would have wondered the essence of involving these 'innocent' animals). That was not enough as they were also expected to cry mightly unto God for help. Those measures looked enough to attract God's mercy to the land, but actually was below threshold.
Finally, 'everyone was to turn from his evil way, and from violence that is in their hands'. Until that was done, mercy was still far away from them. It took a visible action of making a complete U-turn to avert the imminent destruction. Why didn't God quickly react when even their animals wore garments of mourning? Why didn't their earnest prayer move Him? God was busy waiting for the specific stimuli of suitable threshold for a change of mind in carrying out the destruction they deserted.
He was looking for a heart bent on not going back.
Let us not be deceived into believing that God's forgiveness is proportional to the volume of the tears we produce. Even a very tattered sackcloth does not move Him. Though men can easily be deceived, God still looks beyond our tears, the ashes on our heads and our sackclothes. God is interested in our decisions to quit evil and its appearances, our ability to completely turn our backs to sin and sheepishly follow Him. God looks at the heart; our appearances cannot reveal the true state of our inside.
It should now be clear to us that gaining God's approval transcends the usual cosmetic ashes and sackclothes that make us appear serious. Many people remorsefully say 'I am sorry' without any decision to drive them into the right actions. It will be good for us to count the cost of the salvation God gives, and the rudiments involved in maintaining it, before vomiting our sins and quickly rushing back to them. Permit me to tell you that our salvation is incomplete if we fail to forsake our sins. How can we continue to practise sin and claim to be children of God? It doesn't work.
Truly, the 'violence' in our hands must be destroyed beyond recognition, the bridges to our vomit must be carefully destroyed before we claim to have received God's approval. Our hands must be thoroughly washed to be clean and ready to handle the things of God. We must consciously depart from evil, even when everyone is 'enjoying' it. Anyone that desires to walk in the newness of life must necessarily take up his yoke- the decision to continually walk with God without looking back.
Salvation is free and simple to receive but its price is a sincere faith in Christ's sacrifice. Tears and sackclothes can only contribute nothing. Only our decision to forge ahead even the midst of a compromising multitude will save us from guilt and the strange desire to go for yet another altar call.
Beloved, be wise and consider these things. God still loves you.