Clean Heart, Open Heart

“If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say, ‘The seventh year, the year of release is near,’ and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin. You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all that you undertake. For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land…’

“As the Lord your God has blessed you, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” Deuteronomy 15:7-11,14b-15

“Keep your heart with all vigilance,
    for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

The Lord instituted a system whereby the Israelites would, every seven years, celebrate a release of debts. As with His Sabbaths, God wanted His people to be regularly reminded of what really mattered, and never to grow so entrenched in their personal endeavors that they forgot who He was, and from where they had come. Poor slaves, they had been freed, and that freedom should keep their hearts willing to freely give. (Deuteronomy 15:1-6)

There are good things we do under compulsion, but when guilt-driven or begrudging, they give no honor to God. A hard heart usually clenches the fist, though sometimes we hesitantly give anyway, our gift stained with resentment or criticism. The Lord cares about our actions, but more about the heart’s intent.

When undertaking our work, it is vital not to sequester ourselves from needs around us. Ambition and determination can drive great results and bring fulfillment and success, but they can also harden our hearts to those wanting for attention, care, or material goods. Beware growing calloused against those who do not work as hard, or do as much, and greedy and entitled with what we’ve amassed.

Our Lord frowns on selfish thinking and the guilt of grudge. After all, what do we deserve for all our rebellion against Him? Our merciful Lord welcomes us to be cleansed from miserly selfishness, which then frees us to open wide our hearts to others. Have we checked our hearts for hard places, and brought them to Jesus for transformation? Are we taking pause to really see those around us? To whom will we give freely today from Christ’s love to us? (2 Corinthians 6:11-13)

Lord, help me take care to keep a clean heart, so it is tender and open. May I lavishly give from the bounty You’ve bestowed, to the praise of Your glory and goodness.

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