What constitutes a “clean” heart? It’s more than a heart free of dirt and debris. A clean heart exhibits openness and spaciousness, making room to love God and neighbor—a heart resting in God’s presence and living in joy.
The psalmist’s cry here involves not only what our hearts are clean from but what our hearts are clean for. A clean heart has cleared out the clutter, dissolved the resentments, swept away worries; but it does not remain empty. Our clean hearts make room for “a new and right spirit.” A clean heart offers “a willing spirit,” an openness to what God is up to. The clear, wide-open spaces of our hearts create room for courage and freedom to follow God’s lead.
How does this happen? Not by our own willpower. We cannot wash and declutter our hearts on our own. We do not need to scrub harder or get more soap. Only God can create a clean heart. We lay down our self-help efforts in order to surrender our hearts to God, who alone can cleanse, free, and open up spacious hearts.
Turning to God is a first intentional step. Rather than rush headlong into the day, we pause and reach out to the One who knows us better than we know ourselves. You already know this because you read this daily devotion. Take a moment now to stop and breathe deeply. Feel your heart open as your lungs expand with life-giving breath. Let God’s Spirit clean out every chamber of your heart and open you for love in the day ahead.

Help me surrender my heart to you, O God, so you can make my heart clean, open, and free for love. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 12:20-33

Log In to leave a comment
Lectionary Week
March 12–18, 2018
Scripture Overview

We can maintain outward appearances for only so long. At some point what is in our hearts will come to the surface. God understands this, of course, which is the reason for the promise in Jeremiah. God promises a day when God’s law will no longer be an external standard that we are trying to follow, but will be written on our hearts. In the aftermath of his sin with Bathsheba, David cries out in Psalm 51 for God’s forgiveness and a new heart. The New Testament readings begin to focus our minds toward the end of Jesus’ life. God’s transformative work comes at a cost to God through the death of his Son, who suffered in obedience but through his death was glorified.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. In what areas of your life do you find yourself keeping score? How can you release that tendency?
• Read Psalm 51:1-12. What clutters your heart, making it unavailable for love?
• Read Hebrews 5:5-10. When have you fallen into the habit of faith rather than exhibiting authentic faith? What distinction do you draw between the two?
• Read John 12:20-33. How does the author’s illustration of the seed and flower help you understand Jesus’ crucifixion and death?

Respond by posting a prayer.