Many times I’ve looked at someone and assumed that they couldn’t be a Christian. I’ve looked at the words coming out of their mouth, their clothing choices, or their overall hygiene and assumed that they much not serve the same God I do. This was wrong of me, I know. I was casting my own judgment, associating that person with a stereotype, and not leaving room for the hand of God.
At times like this, my conscience has often been pricked with the words of 1 Samuel 16:7b: “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (NIV).
So often, as Christians, we forget this very important fact. We can’t see the heart of any man. This was what Peter was reminded of in today’s reading.
As a devout Jew, Peter followed strict dietary laws. God confronted Peter on those laws to point out that He, not traditions, has the ultimate say in what is clean and unclean. God warns Peter to not, “call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15 NIV).
This includes more than the animals Peter was eating, but people as well. God was opening the doors of Salvation to all people, including the “dirty” Gentiles. Peter was going to be called upon to witness to some of these Gentiles, so God was making His point clear. Peter couldn’t just look at the outward appearance or religious background of someone and determine if they were worthy of Christ’s love or not. No, that wasn’t up to him, that was up to God.
God didn’t cleanse someone based on their Jewish background, but on their heart. The Greek word for cleanse, katharizō, means to “free from defilement of sin and from faults, to purify from wickedness, to free from guilt of sin, to consecrate, or to pronounce clean in a levitical sense.”
This is exactly what Christ does in each of our lives when we accept Him as our Savior. The dirty and defiled nature of our hearts is made clean and new. What a wonderful thing! And what a wonderful gift God offers to everyone who believes, without any sense of favoritism or judgment. No one is too dirty for God to get His hands on and make clean. All they have to do is ask.
Lord, thank you for this reminder that you alone know the heart of man. Thank you for creating a new, clean heart within me. Help me to share this love with everyone, no matter how they may look or act, so that they, too, can be clean.