Are Your Hands Clean?--by Kimberly B. Southall

Are your hands clean? Some soap and water can fix the problem if your hands have dirt or germs on them. But what about the kind of clean hands God requires? God's Word speaks of clean hands in a different way:

Who may ascend the hill of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false. He will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God his Savior.--Psalm 24:3-5 (NIV)

The Bible teaches us that those who have clean hands will receive blessing and vindication (or forgiveness) from the Lord. This does not mean that a person with physically dirty hands will not receive blessing or forgiveness. No, it is one's thoughts and actions which matter:

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.' --Matthew 15:18-20 (NIV)

Are your thoughts and actions clean in God's eyes? If they aren't, what should you do?

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. --James 4:8 (NIV)

The Bible instructs a sinner to wash his hands. Again, this does not mean that washing one's hands with soap and water will get rid of his sins. Instead, it means that the sinner needs to "clean up his act" or stop doing the sinful things. Jesus stressed the importance of this:

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. --Mark 9:43 (NIV) [See also Matthew 5:30 and Matthew 18:8]

Jesus did not mean for us to bring out an ax and chop off a hand when we sin. No, God created our bodies, and He doesn't want us to intentionally harm ourselves physically. Jesus was just emphasizing how important it is that we make sure our thoughts and actions are "clean" or not sinful. It really is that important that we do our best to "keep our hands clean" and not sin. Are your hands clean?

Copyright © 2006 Kimberly B. Southall. All rights reserved.