Listening Through Lent: A Clean Heart

The Bible makes it clear that sin is not just a superficial problem; it is a matter of the heart.  Jesus himself said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil…”

Unfortunately, when we look carefully into our hearts, we inevitably find not just the good we hoped for, but an abundance of evil – sinful motives, sinful desires, deceit, and the love of things God hates.  What the ancient prophet Jeremiah said, still rings true, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.”

And not only do we find what is unseemly in our hearts, but after repeated efforts at self-reform, we learn that while we might clean up our behavior to look more respectable, we are powerless to change our hearts.  It’s like the Bible says, we can no more change our hearts than the leopard can rid itself of its spots.

So, like King David, after discovering he was capable of greater evil than he had ever dreamed, we too are cast upon the mercy of God.  He alone can change us where we most need changing. That’s what God promised to do when the Messiah came:  “I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit; I will remove your heart of stone, and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in my ways.”

During this season of Lent, it’s appropriate that we join David in his prayer, which we know as Psalm 51 – a prayer set to a simple tune that we might sing it:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence, O Lord,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore unto me the joy of your salvation,
and renew a right spirit within me.

~Pastor Bert Hitchcock

 

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