Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Part II of Series (From Innocence to Purity)
Running about in the field, Hadassah stopped and stretched her arms up to the sky. Jumping rigorously, she shouted, “I can’t reach Jesus.”
“I can’t reach Jesus!”
It’s true. She can’t jump high enough to reach Jesus. No matter how hard she strives, she will not reach Him in her own strength.
Yet, she must reach – or attain – Jesus!
Not by striving and straining; not by working harder or doing better. She will only reach Jesus when she responds to Him as He reaches down to scoop her up.
I have pondered her statement at length this week. Despite her childlike innocence, it paints a picture of what older children easily fall prey to thinking, as well as a misconception parents mistakenly teach their children over time; that the path to gaining a pure heart comes largely by way of one’s own efforts. How easy is it to preach a message to our kids that their own goodness will be achieved by how high they jump- how hard they try- how well they behave. The Authors of Give Them Grace stated that “we must never mistake this training for Christian nurture, or discipline, nor should we mistake their acquiescence to our social mores as true Christian righteousness.” (Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids With the Love of Jesus by Fitzpatrick and Thompson) If we train our children to focus more over their works rather than on what Jesus worked out on their behalf, they may give up their efforts to obey because their hearts will remain unchanged.
Herein lies the oxymoron: We will never gain a pure heart through works- yet we must become devoted to works via a pure heart! The only way to be pure is to first be purified. No matter how hard we try we will not be able to create a pure heart without the purifying work of Jesus. He does the work! He gets the glory! And this simple and profound truth is both liberating and life giving as well as the true motivation to maintain good works.
As Hadassah grows and matures from an innocent child to an adult with a pure heart, it will be the Lord who creates a pure heart in her, as she jumps and skips and runs along her journey from innocence to purity. My prayer for her is that she holds on to her intense passion to jump high in all that she does, but not in a vain attempt to reach Jesus, but out of joy because He has reached her!
For more on this topic, listen to a sermon by Peter Dusan, pastor of Christ Community Church San Marcos called Purified Behavior.