“Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’”?
Proverbs 20:9 (ESV)
Doing laundry is usually fairly routine – I put the clothes in the washer and then into the dryer, and finally fold or hang them up and put them back in their rightful place in the closet… unless, of course, something runs through the washer and dryer that wasn’t supposed to, like a crayon. Much to my dismay, I discovered that I had sent one of my daughter’s red crayons, apparently hidden in the pocket of some jeans, through the dryer, along with a full load of clothes. Everything, including the inside of the dryer was streaked with red wax. After much effort searching the Internet, I found a cleaning process that removed every stain; it took multiple cleaning agents in three washings, but it worked. The clothes were restored to pristine clean.
Proverbs 20:9 reminds us that keeping our hearts pure is a lifelong process. We must be proactive in rooting out negative attitudes, because every attitude that resides in our hearts will eventually come out in our actions and speech. Take an inventory of your own heart attitudes through prayer and begin to live out 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” When you have a specific attitude you want to grow in your life (such as patience, joy, forgiveness, etc.) search God’s word and find three verses about that attitude that will help you cultivate it. The Change My Heart Attitude Card below is a handy way to record the verses you choose and carry them with you anywhere.
The melted-in crayon marks on my daughter’s clothes are like the negative attitudes that can become grafted into our hearts and create strongholds over us. These attitudes may take the form of pride, jealousy, hate, anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness – all of which are sin in God’s eyes. Once we become convicted of these attitudes, we may think that it is impossible to remove them. But, the task is not hopeless! With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can overcome our negative attitudes.
Romans 8:37 tells us that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” So, just like the crayon-stained clothes, our hearts can be triple washed with prayer, confession and praise to the one who made us and loves us. When we pray for discernment (Lord, what do I need to change in my life?), confess the sin that we recognize in our lives (Lord, I’m sorry for doing…, please forgive me and help me to not do that again.) and praise God for his mercy and grace (Lord, thank you for forgiving me and helping me overcome…), our negative attitudes will eventually disappear, just like those tough crayon stains did from the clothes.