Sermoncitos, a family tradition
Clean Hands and a Pure Heart
Every day I drive on dirt roads, raising dust that gets into my engine. I change the grimy oil to enhance the performance of my truck. The key to keeping the oil clean is changing the air filter. I was going to list some of the reasons for washing your hands, but the list of infectious diseases spread by dirty hands is too long. The point is that our eyes and ears need filters and our hearts need regular changing. Our hands and hearts must be washed clean to qualify for the Kingdom of God; “... for no man can be saved except his garments are washed white; yea, his garments must be purified until they are cleansed from all stain, through the blood of him of whom it has been spoken by our fathers, who should come to redeem his people from their sins” (Alma 5: 21, 27). We must be converted and become pure like little children in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3).
It seems like we live in perilous times, but unclean thoughts have always been available. In our day there is easy access to carnal, sensual, and devilish ideas by way of TV, CD, URL, and iPod. Like our parents we can access dirty thoughts through magazines and books. Like our ancestors we can be contaminated by foul language and immodest dress and action. In the 60’s, the law of chastity was derided as being “Puritanical”, meaning old fashioned compared to the doctrine of “Free Love” that was popular at the time. The “free love” of the 60’s introduced many new kinds of sexually transmitted diseases, and caused many broken homes and broken hearts. But the 60’s free love was not a new idea, and the consequences were the same as they have always been. Nephi’s brother Jacob chastised the men of his day: “Ye have broken the hearts of your tender wives, and lost the confidence of your children, because of your bad examples before them; and the sobbings of their hearts ascend up to God against you. And because of the strictness of the word of God, which cometh down against you, many hearts died, pierced with deep wounds” (Jacob :35).
We must be constantly vigilant to filter the temptations around us. One way is to be in church every week to strengthen one another. Amulek was amazed that the people had so soon forgotten the teachings of the church, but recognized that it was because they had stopped gathering with the saints (Alma 34:2). His lecture on faith touch their hearts and helped them gain a feeling of cleanliness before the Lord. Joseph Smith was inspired to give a similar message from the Lord: “And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean” (D&C 88: 74, 86).
The great challenge to be clean takes practice. When an unclean thought comes into your mind, replace it with a clean thought. When a foul word is on the tip of your tongue, don’t share it with us, change it to a clean word. When you choose clean thoughts and actions you are becoming more qualified to be with Heavenly Father. “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (Psalms 24:3-5).
We can’t avoid living in a place of dirt, but we can filter out the unclean and wash our hands an purify our hearts regularly. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen” (Moro. 7: 48).