By David Conley
Growing up in the Midwest where the four seasons are a constant renewal of the landscape, I was reminded of God’s beauty and power. December can look like a winter wonderland, while springtime is bursting with bloom. If you’ve ever had to drive during those seasons, you know the constant nagging experience of having to wash your car over and over and over again. It can be a hassle sometimes, but we all know we’ve all seen “WASH ME” written on the back of a filthy car window. Can we be honest and except the fact that our hearts are way worse off than a dirty car? Can we be honest and admit that we need our God to constantly cleanse our hurts of all unrighteousness, daily? Well, our brother David, the king of Israel, did, and he wrote a powerful prayer to God about it.
Psalm 51 is a cry to God, not only for help, but for mercy, or as Pastor Ricardo says “an acknowledgement that we need God.” “When was the last time you needed God?” he asked when delivering last Sunday’s sermon. Ponder that for a minute. I know we say we do, but when was the last time you acknowledged that fact? Jesus said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners to repentance.” We are encouraged in the sermon to “pray for mercy.” This sounds like the title of a hard rock album, but instead, it is a plea from a soft, broken heart. Why pray for mercy? Because that’s exactly what we need—mercy from the Most High. He doesn’t have to extend mercy to us; he is just to judge sin. Aren’t we glad that he is merciful to all who call out to him from a pure heart?
Pray for forgiveness. There is a difference between mercy and forgiveness. When we ask someone to forgive us. it’s a lot different than asking a judge for mercy. Forgiveness is going to “cost someone” Ricardo explained; and in our case, God gave his as the ultimate payment for our sins. Again, this is totally on God, and we witness that in our own hearts when we know that according to his words, he has already paid that price in Jesus Christ. Praise him! When David was approached by the prophet Nathan over the adultery and murder he committed, he acknowledged it and went straight to God (not Bathsheba, although I hope he did that as well) for forgiveness. May we follow his pattern.
Own our sins. Well, for some, that sounds easier said than done. Have you ever had a simple petty argument that in the end could have totally been avoided because you know you’re wrong? No? Well I know I have, and it is total pride. With God, it’s even worse because we know for a fact that he’s right, and to avoid him can be hazardous. David explained in a prayer to God, “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” Go to him, and own up to your sins; that pleases our God, and there is no one in existence whom we should want to please more.
We also need personal renewal of our minds, and we need to seek a new perspective on how we walk as we seek to please God. Like the dirty car, we need constant washing of our minds and hearts. Renewal takes effort, which includes prayer, reading God’s word, serving him, and seeking to glorify his name. Anything worthwhile takes effort—sometimes A LOT of effort, but is it worth it. You better know it! We who have walked with the Lord know it’s essential to renew our minds daily.
God wants a broken and contrite heart. This actually sums up Psalm 51 and is one of the attitudes God has required since the fall. David explained that this posture is one God will surely not despise. In fact, he will renew our hearts and cleanse us. It’s beautiful and poetic, but, more importantly absolutely necessary.
Father, help us to stand up and acknowledge our sins, knowing that you will cleanse us. May we come to you daily for confession and renewal of our minds and hearts. Let the meditation of our hearts be pleasing to you, in Jesus’ name. Amen.