Psalm 51:10-12, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me."
If you know much about the Bible you remember the story of David and Bathsheba. David sees her on a rooftop bathing. Instead of looking away he allows his eyes the feast. In the end the passion of it gets the best of David. He takes Bathsheba and lies with her. She gets pregnant. So David sends Bathsheba's husband to the frontline of battle to be killed so David can have Bathsheba all to himself and cover over his guilt.
When David is confronted he has to face the guilt anyway. What led to his transgression? Was it the intensity of the temptation? Did the naked bathing Bathsheba get him all shook up and David just couldn't help himself?
Suppose I hold a glass of water and I shake it. Water spills out, and you ask me, “Why did water spill out?” The instinctive answer is, “Water came out because you shook it.” But there is another correct answer, which is, “Water came out because water is what was inside the glass. If there hadn't been water in the glass in the first place, no water would have ever come out of the glass.” Sure, it came out because it was shaken, but water came out because water was inside.
So if we asked David, “Why did you do what you did?” He might say, “I did it because I was tempted, because of pressure. I was, as it were, shaken. My equilibrium was disturbed by outside influences, things that happened to me. I was weary. I looked out of the window and saw this beautiful woman, and one thing led to another. I was shaken.” That's what we instinctively say. “I said that because I was stressed.” “I did that because I was tired, or sick.” “My upbringing has conditioned me to react that way.”
But David's answer [see Psalm 51] is, “I committed adultery because there is adultery in my heart”: “I covered up because there is pride in my heart”; “I murdered because love of self and hatred of others is in my heart.” The really shocking thing I have discovered, says David, is that what I did expressed who I am. Evil came out of me because there is evil in me. [Christopher Ash, Discovering the Joy of a Clear Conscience (P&R Publishing, 2014), page 86.]
"Create in me a clean heart," David says, because what we have is a heart condition. We know, having been taught by Jesus, that we need a new heart, a God changed heart. It is not what goes inside a man's stomach that makes him unclean but what proceeds from his heart. God must change our heart. But even the God sanctified heart will lead to all these things if we do not fill it with the right thing. What is the right thing?
It is love for God. It is not by accident or chance that when Jesus was asked to sum up the law, a law containing over 600 commandments, he chose two laws to do it. Interesting that Jesus did not reduce it to one law. We conclude that the two laws Jesus did choose are so interconnected that they cannot be separated or divided. Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40). Loving God leads to loving others.
When you have a glass full of water and you shake it water comes out. When you have a heart full of love for God and you shake it love for others comes out. It's all about what you fill your heart with. What will you fill your heart with today? Fill it with love for your God.
Prayer: Our Heavenly Father how we love you! We love you because you first loved us. The passions in our hearts show us to be lovers of you. Forgive us when we fill our hearts with the garbage of this world. Create in us a pure heart and renew a right spirit within us. In Jesus name, amen.