“Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. Make room in your hearts for us… You are in our hearts… I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.” “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” 2 Corinthians 7:1-4; Luke 6:38
Unless the heart is cleansed, it has no room for that with which God wants to fill it. I remember a godly friend years ago, when I spoke with her about a situation I was uneasy about, where God was convicting me, holding out her hands as fists, palms up. She said, as she slowly unfolded her fingers and opened her hands, that unless I let go what He was asking me to let go, I had no room to receive the blessings He had for me. The visual was powerful, and I recognized where I had been holding on with wrong motives and reasons: to satisfy the flesh, in fear of the unknown if I let go, for false security, thinking only of present pleasure and not eternal treasures, of my comfort and not God’s glory. Heart-felt confession and genuine repentance brought glorious freedom, and my merciful God replaced my sin with renewed vision, fresh anticipation, deep joy.
Paul, in encouraging the Corinthians to value their covenant relationship with the Lord, urges them to do away with defilement and make room in their hearts for him, as he has for them. And holding them, a young church of believers he loves and prays for, in his heart, has also afforded him comfort and joy.
What is taking up room in our hearts? Have we cluttered them with earthly preoccupations, intrigue for people whose lives have no bearing on ours, fear over the constant drone of “news” someone has decided we need to know, concern for what others think of us, inordinate affection for things that have displaced God or require distracting maintenance, prurient habits to which we give unhealthy attention and time, worry and fretting over events out of my control? Maybe it is simply a glut of thinking about ourselves? A heart full of self strangles our ability to prefer others. When once I identify the ‘junk’ I hold inside and cleanse its defilement, I am free to open my life wide for others God would have me love, care for, serve, and bless; I have time and energy for His occupations. And He always, always, gives back more than I can give away. (Romans 12:3,10)
Father, give my Your eyes and understanding to take inventory of my heart. Reveal what I am hoarding there, what is taking the place of what You desire I value, and cleanse me through and through. Cause me to cherish what means most to You, and above all, You. Fill me to overflow as a conduit of Your grace, light, truth, and joy to others. (Exodus 20:3)