November 3

Psalm 24

“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.” vss. 3-4

These verses are likely a fragment of a liturgy that was used at the door of the temple as Israelites came for worship. A priest would ask a question, “Who shall stand in the holy place?” and the people would respond, “Those who have clean hands and pure hearts…” From this little window into an ancient practice we catch a glimpse of the holiness standards that were at the core of the religion. Times and expectations have not changed. While there is a general acknowledgement that we are all sinners, it is also true that we are all saints, having been made righteous by the grace of God. As saints we are expected to have clean hands and pure hearts, a recognition of the connection between external behaviors and internal convictions. For some this seems impossible. They have no difficulty calling themselves sinners, sometimes even seeming to revel in their sin, but they resist being thought of as saints–maybe because they think it means giving up some of the sins they’ve grown so fond of. But what a blessing it is when we can acknowledge our own sainthood and recognize that our words and actions have tremendous importance in this troubled world. It is right that people have high expectations for followers of Jesus–it’s not for nothing that our sins have been forgiven!

Thought for the Day: Why don’t we like to be called saints?

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