Keep Your Heart Pure
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Firearm experts point out that if a gun is never cleaned, it will eventually become a safety hazard. That’s because every time you fire a gun, residue is left behind. This grime will eventually clog up the works, rendering the firearm unsafe to use. The same is true with our tongues. Every time we lash out in anger, every time we accuse, berate, gossip, criticize, or betray a confidence, a residue is left in our hearts that will make our tongues more harmful to ourselves and others.
Cleaning a handgun is fairly straightforward. After safely disassembling it, you wipe it with a cloth rag, removing as much of the caked-on carbon as possible. Then you apply a solvent and scrub the gun with a brush. After more wiping and scrubbing and brushing, you oil the components that need to be lubricated. Then you reassemble it and, presto chango, you have a gun that is much safer to use.
Cloth rags, solvents, and oil won’t quite do it for our tongues, of course. But there is something we can do to make them less hazardous in the future. We can begin by recognizing negative patterns of speech, asking God to search our hearts and to show us where we have sinned. Then we can ask him for forgiveness. A clean heart will enable our tongues to function the way God intends, building others up rather than tearing them down.
“Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin. For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. . . . Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. . . . Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you” (Psalm 51:1-4, 7, 15).