It was another one of those nights: one where my mind was racing, but there was no one thing that was connecting everything I was thinking of. Nothing, beyond, wishing I could stop thinking and just go to sleep, that is.
Finally, I gave up. I grabbed my pillow, went downstairs, laid down on the couch and picked up my Bible. If I was up anyway, I might as well do something useful, right?
I turned to Psalm 24, and started praying through it (with a hat tip to Don Whitney). By the time I hit verses 3-6, I was wrecked:
Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. (Psalm 24:3-6)
Think about these for a moment:
Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord and stand in his holy place? Only one who has “clean hands and a pure heart.” One who is innocent and pure. One who hungers for God, and whose love for God is on display in their fair and upright dealings with others.
And this is none of us. Even the best of us are far from innocent. None of us is pure. Our love for God is always, at best, faltering. And don’t even get me started on how we can treat one another… In other words, when we look at this, if we’re evaluating ourselves honestly, we’ve got to say, that’s not me.
But when we trust in Jesus, the One who does have clean hands and a pure heart, whose love for his Father is never in question; who deals with others in a way that goes well beyond fairness to extravagant love; who is not the recipient of blessing and righteousness, but is the giver of it to people like you and me, and turns our hearts so we become a part of the generation that seeks him… Wow.
The good news about a passage like this, one that can seem like pretty bad news depending on how we look at it, is it reminds us that in Christ, all of these things are true of us because they are true of him. The Father looks on us not as we were or are in ourselves, but as we are in Christ: pure, innocent, faithful, and just. And more than that, he’s turning us into what he already sees, slowly, day by day.
I can turn to this passage and say, “That’s not me.” And I’d be right. But it is who Jesus is making me. And that is a blessing beyond all measure.