Of Hand-washing and Heart-washing

Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, 2 “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash their hands before they eat!”
3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’” 10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.”Matthew 15:1-11 (NIV)

Recently we are hearing a lot about hand-washing. We are encouraged to wash our hands to keep ourselves and others healthy, to help stop the spread of COVID-19. If we don’t wash our hands, especially before eating, the germs can contaminate our food and make us sick.

Jesus once answered some questions about washing hands before eating. He spoke about the difference between man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom. The world is focused on this life. This life is important, because God wants to bless us in this life, and to bless others through us. But it’s possible to focus on this life only and miss out on the one thing that we really need, the only blessing that begins now and continues into eternity.

The truth is that we are all infected with a spiritual virus in our hearts. This spiritual virus can not be cured by any amount of hand-washing, nor any other cure that man can invent. The good news is that when we believe the truth and put our spiritual health in His hands, He washes our hearts with the blood of Jesus that saves us.

The bad news is that we are still living in a spiritually sick world, and the old sin-sickness can flare up in us again. God has a solution for that. He has brought us into a relationship with Him that is spiritual, of the heart. He has given us His Holy Spirit to keep us close to Him. He tells us to feed on the pure, uncontaminated spiritual food of God’s Word ( Jeremiah 15:16 , John 5:24 ). This spiritual food keeps us alive and healthy. It produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control in our lives. Without regular spiritual food our faith will die. Make room in your heart and in your daily schedule for God. Don’t allow your heart to be satisfied with the junk food this world has to offer ( 1 Peter 2:1-3 ).

When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, LORD God Almighty. (Jeremiah 15:16, NIV)

Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24, NIV)

So then, rid yourselves of all evil, all lying, hypocrisy, jealousy, and evil speech. 2 As newborn babies want milk, you should want the pure and simple teaching. By it you can mature in your salvation, 3 because you have already examined and seen how good the Lord is.(1 Peter 2:1–3, NCV)