SCRIPTURE: Psalm 24:3-4 (CEB) - larger reading Psalm 24
Who can ascend the LORD's mountain? Who can stand in his holy sanctuary? Only the one with clean hands and a pure heart; the one who hasn't made false promises, the one who hasn't sworn dishonestly.
We can supplement our accountability to others by reading slowly through literature designed to challenge our Christian maturity. Consider, as an example, these questions related to sexual purity that I had to read carefully as I read Kent Hughes' Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome:
1. Are we being desensitized by the present evil world? Do things that once shocked us now pass us by with little notice? Have our sexual ethics slackened?
2. Where do our minds wander when we have no duties to perform?
3. What are we reading? Are there books or magazines or files in our libraries that we want no one else to see?
4. What are we renting at the local video stores? How many hours do we spend watching TV? How many adulteries did we watch last week? How many murders? How many did we watch with our children?
5. How many chapters of the Bible did we read last week?
“Mission creep” has been in the news a lot recently. Something begins with good intentions, but over time, ever so slowly, it gradually grows until it demands far more from us than originally proposed. Mission creep.
The five questions listed above could be used to measure Mission Creep for our spiritual journey. We justify certain things in the context of that journey believing that we are on the right path because we can justify what we are doing, reading, viewing, listening to, and reading. Initially the simple little lapses in our spiritual commitment doesn’t seem to phase us, but alas before we know what has happened we are deeper than we could ever imagine. But it began so innocently.
“Clean hands and a pure heart” actually is harder than we can imagine. Temptations surround us and the devil knows our areas of weakness. As my new favorite statement says: Faith makes it possible not easy. It is hard keeping our hands clean and focusing the seat of our soul pure and on the right path… but so goes our walk. We should take it one step at a time because anything more could find us experiencing spiritual “mission creep”.
You know our hearts better than we know ourselves. You know our desires and our challenges. We pray often “lead us not into temptation” and then we turn outward and there those temptations are staring us in the face. Help us to take one step at a time.