“… Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” James 4:8 (NLT)
“Wash your hands!” How many times have you heard that repeated by the politicians and medical experts to avoid the spread of COVID-19. It’s about the simplicist and most practical thing we can all do to protect ourselves and others. Sometimes I think I’m going to rub all the skin off of my hands as many times as I wash them throughout the day! How much hand sanitizer have you gone through?
James uses this medical tip in application of a deeper cleansing we all need – a pure heart. He says that when our hands are dirty, our lives are impure because our loyalty is divided between God and the world. Who hasn’t struggled with that conflict in their faith journey? It’s hard to live in the world without being affected by the world. Worldly minded Christ followers become distant in their relationship with God. He seems far away from them. That’s why James begins this passage with a command and a promise. The first part of the passage that I left off starts with, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. …” Have you struggled in your connection with God? Does He seem further away from you than when you first became a Christian?
The Bible gives us clear instruction on how to come close to God. It’s the fundamental need of every person. God designed us for Himself! Our lives are empty and aimless apart from Him. But how do we come close to God when we feel so far away? James answers that by saying, “Take action!” Be intentional! Choose to come to God. Decide that you’ve had enough with the world and all its attractions that have really become distractions to your faith. Wash your hands of it! I like the way Pastor and author, Warren Wiersbe, describes this passage: “God graciously draws near to us when we deal with the sin in our lives that keeps Him at a distance. He will not share us with anyone else; He must have complete control. The double-minded Christian can never be close to God. … Abraham and Lot come to mind. Abraham “drew near” and talked to God about Sodom in Genesis 18, while Lot moved into Sodom and lost the blessing of God.”
Who are you more like today, Abraham? Or Lot? Scripture encourages us that we can be in the world without being of the world. If you’ve been doubleminded, your loyalty has been divided between God and the world. Decide today to get off the fence. It will just give you a sore bottom! Wash your hands and purify your heart before God and He will come close to you! His cleansing power will give you a pure heart and bring a season of refreshing to your soul, protecting you from the contamination of this world.