“When I was growing up,” Stan commented one morning, “my mom always asked me if I had washed my hands when I came to the dinner table.”
“Mine, too,” I responded. “And if I hadn’t, I was sent right to the bathroom sink. Why do you mention that?”
“Oh, I was thinking about that earlier this morning when I was reading in the letter the apostle James wrote where he pointed out that God is apt to ask me the same question, along with another.”
“God might ask you some questions before you sit down to eat?” I asked with a bit of surprise.
“Not just when I eat,” Stan responded. “Before I come into His presence, whether it is for a meal or otherwise, He asks me if I have clean hands.”
“Okay, so God asks you if you have clean hands,” I replied. “You said there was another question He may ask, what’s that?”
“Did I purify my heart?”
Continuing, he added, “Those are two requirements God has for me before I can come into His presence and expect to have an ever-deepening relationship with Him.”
“Have clean hands and a pure heart,” I repeated. “How does a person do that?”
“For me,” Stan replied, “it means that I’m to cleanse myself of sin and purify all that is in me that can and does get in the way of having a right relationship with God. I can’t rush into God’s presence with sin all over me and a heart filled with unrighteousness, bad attitudes, and the like, and expect that God and I are going to draw closer together.”
“No,” he continued, “I need to get rid of the sin and everything that causes me to have an unclean heart.”
“Like in confessing and repenting?” I asked.
“That’s it, my friend,” Stan replied. “Then and only then can God and I get down to the serious business of drawing closer together in an ever-deepening personal relationship. Without clean hands and a pure heart, it’s not going to happen!”
Bible verses to consider:
Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. Psalm 24:3-4.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. James 4:8.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you allow me to come into your holy presence. Thank you, too, for making me aware of what you require in order for me to have an ever-deepening relationship with you. You require me to have clean hands and a pure heart. Please forgive all of the times I have sought to come into your holy presence with dirty hands and a heart that is not right with you. You know and I know all of the difficulty I face in cleansing myself of dirty sinful hands and an unclean heart. I need and I ask for all of the help you can provide so I am totally fit for us to draw ever closer together in a deepening personal relationship. Thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Having clean hands and a pure heart are required to draw ever closer to God. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? If you agree that those two criteria are essential for an ever-deepening relationship with God, how are you doing with that? What sorts of things can get in the way of having clean hands and a pure heart? Who do you think is best at helping us to have clean hands and a pure heart? If you need that help, do you know how to get it? Is that what you want?