Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:8-12.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded (James 4:8b).
James’s instructions here may have been taken from Psalm 24, which asks, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who shall stand in his holy place?” (3) and then answers, “He that hath clean hands and a pure heart” (v. 4a).
In his commentary on James, the Puritan Matthew Poole notes that this is a call to reform one’s actions and to amend his life. He notes that the call to cleanse the hands, as the principle instrument of bodily actions, is a call to “innocency of outward conversation [conduct].” Correspondingly, the call to purify your hearts is a call amend one’s “thoughts and inward affections, from whence the evils of your outward actions proceed.”
In the beatitudes of Matthew 5, Christ taught: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (v. 8).
And in Luke 6:45 Christ said: “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.”
Our words are indeed a window into the condition of our heart.
We are to heed James’s exhortation to reform both our outward actions (hands) and our inward thoughts (heart), knowing that in this life we will not fully attain to clean hands and pure hearts. Yet we also know one who had clean hands and a pure heart, one who was tempted in all points even we are, and yet remained without sin. He is the Lord Jesus Christ, and if our lives are hid in his, we too may be found blameless in God’s sight.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle