“Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? 4He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to falsehood, who does not swear deceitfully. 5He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and vindication from the God of his salvation.…” (Psalm 24:4 NIV)
First, notice the wide gap between your Hands and your Heart. Not the distance between them but rather the huge gap between what they do and how they are seen.
Our hands are almost always visible to others. Our hands are what we use to reach out to help our neighbor and to protect ourselves from those who seek to do us harm. Our hands care for our children and it is with our hands that we prepare meals in order to sustain ourselves and our families. We use our hands to build houses, to tend gardens and to build digital worlds on-line. Most of us used our hands this morning to tend to our own needs and to beautify ourselves. We turned off the alarm, turned on the radio, washed our faces, brushed our teeth, styled our hair, put on clothes and tied our shoes.
We tend to the superficiality of our hands by manicuring them and we beautify them by polishing and painting them. In the past few years I look down at my hands and am often shocked by how much they have aged and I think, “When did I get my Dad’s hands?”
Think about how different the heart is. Our heart is never visible and if it is then we have been in a very terrible accident or we are on the surgeon’s table with serious heart issues. While our heart is always working we rarely think about it and we do nothing tangible, nothing noticeable with it. Yes, I know, we cannot live without it but follow me on this. Our heart doesn’t tuck our kids in at night, our heart does not caress the face of our loved ones and our heart does not deliver groceries to an elderly neighbor. Our heart does not build homes, protect the house, tend gardens or type out emails and posts for the world to read.
Our hands beautify our body and in turn we beautify our hands yet we do not beauty our hearts nor does our heart beautify our body.
Second, How do we do anything good in this life for those we love? For our neighbors?
With our hands. Not with our hearts! Not with our mouths even. We can declare that our heart is good and we can carefully choose words that make others think that our heart, thoughts and intentions are good and pure BUT UNTIL our hands get busy with providing tangible fruit, tangible evidence of the goodness and purity of our hearts then we have really not yet love our neighbor.
How will you do more good in this next season of your life? You will allow God to clean your heart and in doing so, your good works, the right good works will increase and the fruit of that good work will increase.
What type of things do we need to clean up in our hearts so that God’s grace, love and abundance will flow Through Our Hands?
Some of the filthiest things around, things that many Christians seem to be okay with hiding in, storing in, their hearts are…
- We seem to love to hold grudges against people who have offended us.
- We hold onto this persistent ill feeling towards people and very often want them punished.
- It is one of the filthies things we hold onto in our hearts and minds
- We seem to give ourselves permission to Be Unforgiving, releasing ourselves from God’s Ways, from God’s Purity, because “Bob did this to me and said that to me, therefore, I have a right not to forgive him.”
- People who harbor unforgiveness have typically judged the person they are refusing to forgive and judged them much more harshly than they would ever judge themselves. To judge means to Act as The Law, to pass judgment upon a person and to also pass sentence upon them.
- When we judge people we hold them Our Standard and want to see our Justice administered to them instead of giving them over to God, the Great judge.
- We know that bitterness is a sin and yet it is also a taste. To have a bitter taste in your mouth is to experience the physical sensation of bitter.
- The person who is bitter because their expectation of what others should or should not have done, what has happened in their lives or how they believe that God should or should not have done something, that person, whatever they experience tastes bitter.
- The bitter person has often buried, quite deeply, unforgiveness and judgment (and jealousy and pride!); they have taken the filthiest things are hidden them in their hearts and these things are a constant cesspool for the bacteria of evil to infect and corrupt all parts of their lives.
- Others Filthy Things Hidden in Our Hearts:
- Jealousy (Comparison!); Fear; Hatred; Racism; and Pride are all Filthy things that pollute our hearts and drive our hands to filthy acts (or often worse, to not act at all!).
Third, from Where do clean hands come? Clean Hands come from a Pure Heart. From where does a pure heart come? From the Lord!
Yes! We want our actions and our words to be pure, good and uplifting. Yes! We want our actions to produce both Godly and Good results and Yes! We want our words to bring life, light and liberation to all who hear us.
Yes! And BUT! But, these actions and words Do Not come from our hard work, the incessant washing of our hands or the constant memorization of scripture.
So, we want the results and we are responsible for what we do and say BUT, THE HEART IS WHERE IT ALL STARTS.
You can never say anything bitter, yet be eaten up emotionally by bitterness.
You can appear, on the outside, to be clean and free of the disease of unforgiveness yet still be ….
You can look clean on the outside but be filthy on the inside!
I think that there is a very Wrong Belief in the church’s thinking that goes something like this, “If I clean my hands often enough then my heart will be clean.” OR, “If my hands do good things then eventually my heart will become clean (healed)”.
Fourth, Indicators of an Unclean Heart are not necessarily Unclean Hands. Often we become such experts at hiding our dirty and unorganized heart. Why Unorganized? Have you ever helped someone out whose home is filthy? Someone who struggles with keeping things clean? Have you noticed how unorganized they are? How uncleanliness so often goes hand in hand with unorganized?
As a little side note, A clean heart is an organized heart. A heart not organized to impress others but a heart that is organized and reflects the order of the heart of Our Father. It is from this clean and organized heart that abundant life flows…right into the work of our hands.
My Conclusion then is that all of our energy should be focused not on the washing of the hands but on the washing of the heart. As the heart is healed up, cleaned up and gains real freedom then our hands will become clean, healed and set free to do the tasks we were created to do.
A clean heart is a heart that has been cleansed by heaven, by the cross. It is a heart organized according to heaven. A clean heart is not perfect. A clean heart is not without flaw. A clean heart is submitted to God. And, the Good News is, that He cleans our heart and when we surrender our heart to Him, then our hearts lead the way and our hands, or the work of our hands, become clean.