In my quiet time this morning, I was reading in the Book of Matthew and was struck by the first part of Chapter 15 (verses 1-20). Some Pharisees and teachers of the law approached Jesus and asked, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"(vs.2) Jesus replied, "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? (vs.3). He went on to say, "You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (vs. 7-9) "Listen and understand," Jesus told the crowd, "What goes into a man's mouth does not make him 'unclean', but what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him 'unclean.'" (vs. 10-11)
Then after telling a parable as Jesus so often did to explain things, Peter, one of his disciples, asked him to explain it to them. (vs. 15) In The Message translation, Jesus replies, "Are you being willfully stupid?" (vs. 16) (Jesus must be thinking, do you still not GET IT???) Finally, Jesus says, "Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man 'unclean', but eating with unwashed hands does not make him unclean." (vs. 17-20)
Before anyone reading this begins to think that I think it's okay NOT to wash your hands and no longer wants to eat my cooking, let me just say that I wash my hands all the time, especially when I'm in the kitchen. I also teach my children to wash their hands; and anyone who knows my mother knows that she is the germ police! It's just good hygiene to wash hands! I believe what Jesus is saying is that doing something for the sake of tradition only, or falling into legalism by following a set of man made rules is not what's important. He is much more concerned with the condition of the heart.
Jeremiah 17:9 says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"
We are born with a sinful heart; a selfish heart. Sometimes I will have a bad thought about someone, or spout off a harsh word and then wonder how I could think or say it. Truthfully, it's a little hard for me to wrap my head around, but I believe that as long as we are in these bodies here on earth we will continue to struggle with what's in our heart. For example, What is my real motive here? or Where did that hateful thought come from?
James 4:8 says, "Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded."
My mother gave me a plaque that hangs over my guest bathroom sink that says, "Jesus and germs are everywhere, so wash your hands and say your prayers." From now on, as I wash my hands I want to think about washing the germs off of my heart as well. Our foaming hand soap is the Word of God and we are washed clean by the Living Water of Jesus Christ. Deuteronomy 11:18 tell us to, "Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds..." Staying in God's Word each day and meditating on His precepts is the key to keeping clean. When we're more in tune to what His Word says we recognize our own dirt and grime. Hopefully, we are all going through a process of being sanctified (being made holy). 1 Corinthians 6:11 talks about being washed, or santified.
I also love what David says in Psalm 51:2: "Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin."
Jesus and germs really are everywhere! We are continually coming in contact with viruses and bacteria of evil thoughts and temptations, and we run the risk of becoming sick with sin! Thank goodness we have the Holy Spirit (Jesus everywhere!) to guide us, direct us, and convict us in our daily lives.
How about a challenge to examine the condition of our hearts each time we wash our hands? I am reminded of the song by Chris Tomlin, Give Us Clean Hands. It should be our desire to be clean on the inside and out.
For His Glory,
Copyright Christy Long 2010. All Rights Reserved.