Rend your heart and not your garments.
There is an old saying that goes something like this, “The guilty dog always barks first.” In other words, when confronted with the reality of the guilt of wrongdoing, people will often make a big show out of their innocence. It is commonplace among human beings for us to present a false front—to exhibit on the outside a very different person than the one that is on the inside.
We read often in scripture of people tearing their clothes as a public sign of intense grief over some spiritual error or blasphemy (whether real or perceived). Not only is it a sign of grief, but it can also be a sign of condemnation—a sign that they themselves have never and would never think, say, or do what they have just witnessed. For example, in Mark 14 we read of Jesus being before the Sanhedrin. When Jesus answers affirmatively that he is the Christ and refers to himself as the “Son of Man,” the high priest responded: “He tore his garments and said, ‘What further witnesses do we need? You have heard his blasphemy’” (vv. 63-64).
One thing that we know about the spiritual leaders in Jesus’s day is that they often made a big show out of concern for godly living and behavior, while they themselves in their own hearts seemed to have little true thought (or understanding) regarding God’s will and God’s ways. Jesus pointedly said about them, “They preach, but they do not practice” (Matt 23:3). Jesus saw that they were far more concerned about rending their garments than they were about having their hearts broken for God. That certainly remains a concern to this day. God always wants our hearts inclined toward him.