Our spiritual sackcloth will remind us of the needs within the body. To keep in prayer our leaders that God has put in authority over us. It will remind us to keep the needs of the flock ahead of our own personal pride. It will remind us that our service within the church is an offering to God not to be seen or approved by man. Too many people are hurt in ministry because they lose sight of whom they are serving.
Lastly, the third reason for using sackcloth in the bible is when someone was repenting. The sackcloth delivered the message that appearances no longer mattered to the person. They no longer cared what others thought they only wished to be where God wanted them to be.
This is also directly related to the church today. Too many of us walk around with our church faces on. The face we show the world however can be completely different. We can raise our hands on Sunday and find our backs against the wall on Wednesday. Serving in ministry on Sunday but dancing in the club on Friday. The Bible warns:
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it--he will be blessed in what he does. James 1: 22-25
Not just listening but doing. In the course of our walk, God expects us to fall. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But He also expects us to repent. Repentance is not merely acknowledging what you have done is wrong but it is a turning away from that sin or behavior. Too often we can think that sin is somehow permissible because we can always repent and God provides the grace to forgive. True repentance however requires something of us. It requires a sacrifice of our flesh to the Spirit of God living within us. The sin should become as uncomfortable as the spiritual sackcloth we sit in. It should itch us and irritate us. It should be as unattractive as the sackcloth. It should grate against us forcing a desire to change and to change is to truly repent.
It was common when someone in the Bible would be putting on sackcloth that they would first tear the garment they were wearing. An outward expression of inward grief, warning or repentance. God looks inside though. He wants to see if we are tearing our hearts:
"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
When we face the trials of life, let us put on our spiritual sackcloth and remember that we have the comforter inside of us all to testify to us about how good God truly is. When our church or the body of Christ is hurting, let us put on our spiritual sackcloth and remember it is our responsibility to intercede. When we realize that we must repent, let us put on our spiritual sackcloth to remember that God sees through our church faces. He does not desire religion, but relationship. He understands that we will fail but expects us to rend our hearts before Him knowing that He will relent. Trusting that He is working out all things for our good. Believing that He who started a good work in us will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.