Purity. Depending upon the context, it is either an absolute necessity, somewhat desirable, and perhaps to some – not desirable in the least.
Way back in 1881, an American company named Proctor & Gamble was searching for a way to position their product (Ivory Soap) as better than castile soap, which was commonly regarded at the time as the best soap one could get. The problem was that no real definition of “pure” existed for soap. So P&G hired a consulting firm, analyzed their soap and found out that only .56% of the ingredients were not actually core, active ingredients for “soap” and the rest, as they say, is history. The phrase “99 and 44/100% pure” has been unchanged for close to 150 years. Evidently purity is something many people desire in their soap!
Purity is also a good thing to have in quite a few other things. Water is one. There’s a filter sold online for backpackers that claims it removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, leptospirosis, cholera and E.coli. Someone (probably jokingly, I hope) said that filter made it safe to drink poop. Yuck!
Of course, when it comes to US, we tend to have a bit more of a “sliding scale.” Purity is nice, but one only has to look around at the choices some people make and you quickly come to the conclusion that we live in a “purity optional” society. Walking through life, I have to work HARD at keeping my thoughts pure on any given day; for me it is a constant battle. Not too long ago, as my wife and I were approaching the checkout lane of a local store, we saw a woman that appeared to be totally naked from the waist down!!! She was, in fact, wearing a pair of very (very, very) tight yoga pants that were a dead-ringer for her skin color. Let’s just say that all available products were clearly visible to prospective partners.
It can be easy for us to compare OURSELVES with folk like that particular woman. We might even come to the conclusion that we are “99 and 44/100% pure.” Well, probably not; we know better.
But the fact remains that we tend to compare OUR BEST with someone else’s WORST and feel as though we’re doing OK. Or just as commonly we will compare ourselves with others that are similar to us, so that we feel comfortable. We are “part of the group,” and so how bad could we really be? We get so comfortable in our groups that, even if we change the entire original purpose for the group and all of the things it once stood for, we keep the name and pretend. I don’t need to give you an example here, because if you can’t look around you in today’s “woke” culture and find one on your own, you simply aren’t looking. (I wanted to include the well-known story of the father who baked dog poop into brownies for his sons, but I don’t have enough room. If you’re unfamiliar, Google it!)
Today’s verse reminds us that the standard is not what someone else does, nor is it some societal sliding scale. The standard is what God says in His word.
God is like the professor who enters the classroom and presents the students on Day One with a list of key items that will be on the final exam for the course. The students may have any number of opinions and reactions (both good and bad) — but the one thing they cannot do is change the final exam. Neither, of course, can we.
What we CAN do is learn HIS standard from HIS word. Then we can invite HIM into our lives to be our Lord. This opens the door for us to be constantly filled with His Spirit, and gives us the grace and gifts to walk in accordance with His will and His word. Not perfectly, to be sure. But contained within that relationship is the “great exchange” we’ve spoken about so many times in the past. His righteousness for our sin, His grace and forgiveness for our failures.
He, my friends, is NOT “99 and 44/100% pure.” He was tempered in every way, but without ever sinning. HE is the standard to which we must compare ourselves. HE is the goal. HE is the target. 100% PURE!!!
“How can a young person stay pure? BY OBEYING YOUR WORD.”
And it’s a great approach for us older folk, too!