For the last 14 plus months we have all been hearing a great deal about COVID and how to retard its spread. We know that maintaining physical distance between people is a good thing. Covering our mouths seems to slow down the spread of the virus. And we have heard a lot about the importance of frequently washing our hands.
Depending on who the expert is, we have been told that we should be washing our hands 6 to 10 times a day. And we should keep washing those digits for over 20 seconds. (At one point I picked a hymn that I could sing in about 20 seconds, it helped keep me on track.) When soap and water wasn’t available, we turned to hand sanitizers. Boy I wish I had invested in one of those companies!
The bottom line is, it works. A frequent washing of our hands has impacted COVID and every other kind of bug too. Regular flu season was a bust this past year!
But did you know that we are commanded to wash our hands in the scripture? In James chapter four, the half-brother of Jesus is giving a list of ten things that believers ought to do in order to humble ourselves before Almighty God.
He tells us to submit ourselves to Him, to resist the devil, to come near to our Heavenly Father, to purify our hearts, grieve over our sin and then He will lift us up. Right in the middle of that list, James tells us to “wash our hands.”
I don’t think he is referring to our physical hands. Instead, James is focused on our spiritual walk with the Lord. He is listing all those very practical things so we will be attentive to our relationship. If I were translating that sentence into modern vernacular, I might say “Clean up your act!”
One of the ways we can clean up our act is to keep a very short sin list. If we catch ourselves being unkind to someone, let’s stop and apologize. Make it right. Then move on.
If we notice a bad attitude cropping up at home, we pause and do a quick “breath” prayer and confess it and change it. If we hear ourselves using language that is unbecoming of a child of God we pull ourselves aside for a personal review and choose different words for the balance of the day.
But sometimes the day streams by and we don’t “catch” all our sin as it occurs. On those days, I have found it helpful at the end of the day to ask the Spirit of God to highlight and bring to my attention those attitudes, behaviors, activities and thoughts that break God’s laws and ultimately break His heart.
Once I am reminded of those things I can prayerfully confess my sin and turn from them. That is the idea of keeping a short sin list. By addressing and forsaking those offenses every day, we can all keep our hands washed!