A Clean Heart

A Clean Heart

As we continue to emerge from a time when the mantra was “wash your hands, wear your mask, keep your distance” we are beginning to see a shift in focus. It allows us to return to an older mantra, as it were:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit.  Psalm 51:10-12

Focusing on the spiritual, we ask ourselves, what does it mean to have a clean heart? Surely it means to be forgiven. Seeking the grace of God may mean more than seeking God’s forgiveness, however, it often involves seeking the forgiveness of others. In order for God to create a clean heart in us, in order for God to put a new and right spirit within us, we are obliged to seek the forgiveness of others. This involves remorse, penitence, and even restitution.

Often when we hear the word restitution our minds immediately think of some sort of financial settlement. But most sins are not financial and so restitution may involve a much different kind of currency exchange. In order to find the joy of restored salvation, we may need to not simple express our remorse by saying we are “sorry” but make it heartfelt by offering love in place of the transgression. This requires a true transformation, a changing of the heart, and thus the psalmist seeks not simply forgiveness but a new, clean heart and spirit within.

True penitence means seeking to be transformed not just momentarily, but for the long haul. This sustaining of a willing spirit requires spiritual lasting commitment and endurance.

Are we ready for that change? Are we ready to ask others for forgiveness? Preparing for that moment may require us to pray as the psalmist did:

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit.  Psalm 51:10-12

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