Did You Wash?
Sneaking to the dinner table, we slid into our chairs with the day’s sweat and dirt still fresh on our hands and under our fingernails from a hard day at play. Without turning from the stove and looking, Mom sternly spoke, “Go wash your hands. You know you can’t eat without washing.”
Scrambling to the bathroom, we took our turn at the sink and promptly scooted back to our place at the table. Mom enforced a strict hand washing policy that helped us understand that not washing might result in illness.
During the pandemic, experts around the world admonished us again to wash our hands. Frequent and thorough cleansing of hands could prevent the spread of the virus and keep us all safer.
Hand washing in the Jewish tradition was a “must” as you entered a house of worship. Bowls of water were set at the entrance to perform the ritual washing and purification prior to entering God’s house to worship. Only after worshippers had cleansed appropriately were they allowed to enter.
To come into God’s presence, cleansing doesn’t stop with physical hand washing. Spiritual cleansing is also required. The psalmist spells it out for us in Psalm 24:3-4, “Who can ascend the Lord’s mountain? Who can stand in his holy sanctuary? Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart; the one who hasn’t made false promises, the one who hasn’t sworn dishonestly (CEB). Our hearts have to be clean too. We can’t come into God’s presence having lied, deceived, or having made promises we can’t keep. We must have a pure heart.
The Word promises rewards to those who come to God with clean hands and a pure heart. In verse 5, the psalmist continues, “That kind of person receives blessings from the Lord and righteousness from the God who saves.”
Coming into God’s presence requires more than just showing up. Just like not being able to sit at the dinner table without having properly prepared, we are required to prepare to enter God’s presence by seeking forgiveness and assuring that our heart is pure. Today, let God fill your life with blessings by committing to live with clean hands and a pure heart.
– TH –