The Importance of a Clean Heart
No one prays either successfully or earnestly, for what he does not consider of any great consequence. The man who does not consider a clean heart of any special importance, will not pray for it very earnestly. He may mouth a prayer, to be heard of men, but will never pray for it from his heart, in dead earnest, unless he feels its great importance. Not to pray for anything in deep earnest is not to pray at all, and hence is not to receive. Those people who think that the experience of a clean heart is not of much importance not only make a great mistake, but, by this false notion, rob their souls of a great necessity. The great importance of having this prayer answered is seen for the following reasons:
1) The heart rules the world. It is the mightiest power in the world. The love either of good or evil sways mankind. There is an old adage that “knowledge is power.” This is true. There is power in knowledge, but there is a greater power in love, either for good or evil. Men are moved to action more by what they love and hate than by what they know. There are men who are great thinkers, who sit and think all their lives, but never carry their thoughts out into action. But the men who go forth to carry on those things that they are moved to by strong desire are the men that rule the world and make the wheels of progress turn. Tell me what a man loves the most and I will tell you what he will do every time. The man who loves a course of dissipation more than he loves self-respect, the respect of community, prosperity and virtue, will give himself to dissipation because he loves it the best, no matter if he does have the knowledge of all its dire effects. The man who is covetous will give himself up to that, and sacrifice many comforts, because he loves money better than the things which he foregoes, to get it. A slothful man will give himself to sloth because he loves it better than the rewards of industry. The likes and dislikes of mankind rule the world. Solomon says out of the heart “are the issues of life.”
If there are evil affections in the heart they will issue from it and influence all the life. If our hearts are wrong it will be very difficult to keep our lives right, hence it is of the utmost importance to have our hearts free from all evil affections.
When the heart is free from sinful affections it is easy to do the will of God. It can never be difficult to do the will of God when there is nothing in the heart contrary to the will of God; when there is nothing contrary to his love in the heart. Love lightens labor in every department of life. The mother will, out of love for her child, do the most menial tasks that money could not hire her to do, for any one else. No man is a profitable servant whose heart is not in his work. He only is a profitable servant who puts his whole soul into his master’s business. Then the work is well done. So it is if we make a success of the service of God. Every unholy affection within us is an inward traitor, who makes it difficult for us to be at our best for God.
We have heard a story of a farmer’s wife who arose in the morning for daily work feeling scarcely strong enough to go through the day. At the thought of the churning, baking, dish-washing and other duties of the day she was discouraged and began to complain of the hard lot in the life of the farmer’s wife. The more she sighed the worse the situation appeared. In the midst of this discouragement her husband appeared from the farm on some errand. He perceived her condition, and after uttering some word of endearment went on his way to the field. Instantly the situation brightened. The baking and churning and dishes seemed very small affairs after all and she exclaimed, as a ray of sunlight seemed to illuminate the place, “After all, we farmers’ wives have a fine time of it.” That is the great secret of having a good time in the service of the Lord. It is to have a heart so full of love to him that there is no room for any sin. Then the words of Jesus, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light,” have a real meaning. To most of the church they seem only the high wrought figures of exaggeration.
We have heard of the old Scotch preacher who read to his congregation one morning in his service a part of the 119th Psalm. As he read these words of the psalmist, ”I will run the way of thy commandments,” he said, “stop David that boasting!” He continued, “When thou shalt have enlarged my heart. O, David, no credit to you. A man could not help running when his heart was enlarged.” When all evil affections are cast out and the heart is enlarged with the pure love of God, we will find our activities and desires are untiring to do the will of God. The heart will be in perpetual motion and tireless in its activities to do the will of God. This is the only perpetual motion that has yet been discovered, and it comes from the only enlargement of heart that allows a man’s running. Hence here we have two anomalies which are above nature. Perpetual motion discovered at last and caused by enlargement of the heart. It will be seen, then, that it becomes a duty and delight to serve God under such conditions. Such Christians never have to sing,
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,”
in order to tell the truth, but the hindrances to love having been removed from their hearts by the cleansing blood, they sing truthfully with Faber,
“I worship Thee, sweet will of God,
And all thy ways adore,
And every day I live I seem
To love thee more and more.”
2) The great importance of obtaining a clean heart is seen when we remember that we can not enter heaven without it. It is something more than a luxury. Heaven is quarantined against sin. Only holy people will ever enter heaven. It is an eternal necessity. Some one says very truly, “Morality will keep us out of jail, but it will take holiness to keep us out of hell.” The psalmist says, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” Jesus declared, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And the sight of God is promised to no one else. The wicked will see Jesus as an offended judge, but only the pure in heart shall see him with any favor or delight. The inspired penman commands us to “follow peace with all men and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.” Holiness is the wedding garment which we shall have to wear or we shall never get into the marriage supper of the Lamb. We may try to think it is of little importance, but we shall not think it is of little importance when we come to the death bed. We may despise those who now advocate it, and declare that they are specialists, but we will be glad to make it our specialty the last day of life and anything that will be the specialty of our last day ought to be the specialty of every day. Reader, do not trifle when you pray for a clean heart.