Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts. James 4:8
At the sink, two little children cheerfully sing the “Happy Birthday” song—two times each—while washing their hands. “It takes that long to wash away the germs,” their mother tells them. So even before the COVID-19 pandemic, they’d learned to take time to clean dirt from their hands.
Keeping things clean can be a tedious process, as we learned in the pandemic. Scrubbing away sin, however, means following focused steps back to God.
James urged believers in Jesus scattered throughout the Roman Empire to turn their focus back to God. Beset by quarrels and fights, their battles for one-upmanship, possessions, worldly pleasures, money, and recognition made them an enemy of God. He warned them, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. . . . Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (James 4:7–8). But how?
“Come near to God and he will come near to you” (v. 8). These are sanitizing words describing the necessity of turning to God to scour away the soil of sin from our lives. James then further explained the cleaning method: “Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (vv. 9–10).
Dealing with our sin is humbling. But, hallelujah, God is faithful to turn our “washing” into worship.
By: Patricia Raybon
Reflect & Pray
Where in your life does sin persist? Have you turned back to God to let Him clean you up?
Holy God, thank You that Your cleaning methods for purifying sin draw me back to You. Wash my hands and purify my heart as I return.