- 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from Your presence
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Psalm 51:10-11 NASV
- 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Hebrews 10:22 (NIV)
It’s almost March. That’s a good thing—for those of us who live where the season of Winter seems to go on forever! March equals the beginning of spring. And that, my friends, makes me want to smile!
What words pop into your mind when you think of Spring? Most are positive and uplifting aren’t they!
More Sunshine. Longer days. Warmer weather. New Life. The many shades of green. Light. Flowers. Tulips. Daffodils. Dandelions! New life. Baby cows—baby rabbits—baby birds! Robins. Nests. Spring wardrobe. Waking up to the sound of birds singing! Refresh! Renew! Recharge! Easter! Resurrection! And did I say, New Life!
Gotta love Spring! Popular polls are divided between Spring and Autumn as the most popular season. Gallup polls always land on Spring as the people’s favorite, with Goodreads pollsters choosing Autumn. Both are loved for their smells, color and associated foods and holidays.
As for me, I slightly prefer Spring over Autumn. I am so ready for the warmth, the new life, the color, and light after the drab and dreary winter. It renews me and invigorates me and inspires me to look at myself – not just my home and car and garage - for some Spring Cleaning!
Spring Cleaning for the Heart!
Our heart is Christ’s home. So then, what does Spring Cleaning for the heart look like? Is it a new concept to you or have you been engaging in this spiritual practice for a while? Years ago, I attended a women’s retreat on this topic, and since that time have tried to “clean out” my heart on a regular basis.
It makes me sad to think of the Holy Spirit’s residence falling into disarray! It is amazing how cluttered, dusty, and dull my heart can become without the intentionality of looking at it closely! So, I have developed some spring cleaning habits for my heart! In fact, because I dislike house cleaning, I may have become a bit more faithful in this area, than in actual Spring cleaning!
A pivotal Scripture for my life is Psalm 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NKJV). More than 30 years ago I was challenged to pray this prayer with a sincere and faithful heart and wait to see what God would do! I was told it is a “dangerous” prayer—for God wants nothing more than to refine and transform our heart and spirit to make it more like Jesus.
Let's explore a few of the practices that can keep you refreshed and renewed in your faith life and your relationship with God. Keeping with the image of our heart as Christ’s home, we will use cleaning habits and terminology as metaphors for spiritual cleaning! So, get out your vacuum, dust mops, and more! Let’s allow God to create a clean heart within us.
Clean out, Declutter and Refresh!
Spring cleaning often includes closets, drawers and other “hidey holes”! I don’t know about you, but this takes dedicated time and space! To do a closet or drawer justice, one must first unload or empty everything and place it somewhere else so the real work or sorting or decluttering can begin. This is when you decide what needs to go, what needs to be refurbished, and what can stay?
What do I keep because I use it often, it is valuable, or I just plain love it?
What has gathered cobwebs and dust, needing a good cleaning before a decision can be made?
What is broken and unusable?
What has never been used, unopened or worn? Why? What should I do with it now?
What is harmful and causes me not to live a faith filled life?
A Decluttered Cleaned out Heart
Talk about cleaning out, decluttering, and refreshing! The Lord went to work on the closets, drawers and hidden places in my life and has not stopped! As I applied each of the questions above to areas of my life, God went to work!
There were habits there that did not line up with being a Christ follower. There were broken pieces waiting for the healing touch of Christ! There were resources and guides and memories and teaching that cluttered my mind against the teaching of Scripture. And I had not begun to understand what it meant to be a ‘New Creation in Christ’.
Try applying each of the questions above to areas of your faith life/your heart and allow God to do His good work!
A Forgiven Heart
Just as grime and grease can build up on your oven rack and barbeque grill, I realized early on that there was a lot of buildup of sin and unforgiveness in my life. The grime of unforgiveness can keep us stuck and ineffective! It takes elbow grease and hard work to cut through that buildup!
I John 1:9 tells us that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I knew I had much to learn about recognizing, then confessing my own sin daily. Much of my sinfulness was buried under years of pain and poor choices. It took hard work and prayer, but believing that God heard, forgave, and set me free was a process that continues to this day. One that keeps my heart a purer place for my Savior to live!
A Heart with Clean Motives.
Motives are many, varied, and often deceiving! They crop up in all areas of our lives and our decision making! Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:5 that God will bring to light what is hidden in the dark secret places of our lives and expose the motives of our heart (paraphrased). Deep cleaning is required!
First, I needed to “vacuum up” the many influences of the world that had taken root in my heart, mind, and habits.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15
Worldly influences are often subtle and hidden deep into the fabric of our lives. These are some of the most impactful influences from the world I must continually vacuum from my life!
- Holding on to possessions as if they were the real treasures
- Worrying about finances and my appearance
- Holding grudges
- Hiding my true feelings
- Books, movies, TV shows I watched
What are those pieces of the world that hold you captive, influencing your heart?
Secondly, I needed to “dust off” the Bible and begin to spend time with the Lord, reading and studying His Word. I was relying on studies, sermons, music, and Christian books to teach me and form my faith. I had not yet developed a deep love for Scripture.
I prayed daily for God to give me a love for His word! He did! Now I can truly say, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105
Thirdly, my prayer time required some “polishing up” for it had grown dull and lifeless. At the time I was first challenged to PRAY this scripture to “create in me a clean heart”, I was a mom, wife, full-time schoolteacher, busy with church and all the activities that a family with children takes on! My personal prayer time was almost non-existent!
God convicted me of this gap in my spiritual habits, which is why He led me to a Prayer Conference. It was there I received this Psalm 51:10 challenge. Over the years my prayer life has gone through various stages of dullness and disruption, yet never for long periods of time. God has proven Himself faithful. I find prayer a cornerstone of my faith.
Clean Heart with Renewed Thoughts
As believers we are to have the mind of Christ. Instead, thoughts of doubt, fear, worry, deception, anger, and greed can creep in before we know it! We are called to dig into the corners of our mind and uncover past regrets, pains, and voices that can keep us in unhealthy thought patterns. We need to throw out the broken and useless pieces of our lives that can influence our thoughts.
Take the first step today! Remember the adage, Garbage in = Garbage? How about if we lived by a new one, Godliness in = Godliness Out! Watch the Lord renew and transform your thoughts.
Clean heart – Clean speech
One of the greatest areas of struggle many of us have is with our mouths—what comes out of them to be frank. Our speech, like our thoughts, is often a far cry from God’s heart. I feel as if my speech often needs a redo—a fresh coat of paint!
Our speech is supposed to build up, not tear down and to edify the hearer. (Ephesians 4:29) BIG task, my friend. Only attainable with a lot of hard cleaning and stripping away! Ask God to show you where your speech habits are a stumbling block to others and keep you from being like Christ.
Having a Heart Like His
As we do the hard work on our hearts: confessing our sins, surrendering our motives, our love for the world, our ungodly thoughts and speech. Spending time in the Word and in prayer we will see an increase in our own peace and closeness to God. Renewal is the result of God’s deep love and grace at work in our lives, as we allow Him into the cleaning process.
How about you, my friends? Are you willing to do some Spring Cleaning of your Heart? He will be with you each step of the way . . . and the results will be a beautiful thing!