Did you know that eating raw cashews could kill you? Raw cashews are encased in a shell that contains a large amount of a toxic mixture of chemicals called urushiol. Urushiol is the same chemical found in the leaves of poison ivy so trying to crack open a cashew shell with your teeth or eating a raw cashew is a really bad idea.
Cashews come from an evergreen tree called Anacardium occidentale. The tree was named Anacardium because the cashew apple or fruit, to which the cashew nut is attached, looks like an inverted heart (ana means “upwards” and -cardium means “heart”). Cashews are grown in tropical climates like Brazil, India and Nigeria. The cashew fruit is full of vitamin C and can be eaten raw, but it has a unique taste that people either love or hate due to the urushiol in the fruit’s waxy skin. The cashew nuts have to be thoroughly processed to remove the urushiol before they are ready to eat.
This morning I was reading the 51st Psalm of David. According to the heading in my Bible, David wrote this psalm after Nathan the prophet had confronted him about taking another man’s wife and arranging to have her husband killed in battle to cover it up (2 Samuel 12). Nathan was sent by God to confront David. When confronted with his sin, David was overcome with sorrow and poured out his heart to God for mercy.
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar.” Psalm 51:1-19
As I was thinking about David, urushiol and the cashew (a weird combination I know), it occurred to me that our hearts are a lot like cashews. Apart from God, our hearts are enclosed in a toxic shell of sin that needs to be broken away by the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11). And like the raw cashew nut, our exposed hearts must then be cleansed by the Blood of Christ to keep the toxic effects of sin from taking root in our lives. Our hearts must be inverted towards God like the cashew fruit to receive mercy.
I’m not sure if David liked cashews, but he freely admitted his sin before God and men when he screwed up. He also knew that God’s grace is much more powerful than sin. David had a heart of flesh and knew how to invert his heart towards God.
According to the Scriptures, it is God’s desire to remove our hearts of stone to give us an undivided heart of flesh like David’s heart. In a sermon entitled, “Stony Heart Removed, ” Charles Spurgeon said that hearts of stone are cold, hard, dead and are not easily softened. When considering what is meant by a heart of flesh Spurgeon said:
What is meant by a heart of flesh? I means a heart that can feel on account of sin—a heart that can bleed when the arrows of God stick fast in it; it means a heart that can yield when the gospel makes its attacks—a heart that can be impressed when the seal of God’s word comes upon it; it means a heart that is warm, for life is warm—a heart that can think, a heart that can aspire, a heart that can love—putting all in one—a heart of flesh means that new heart and right spirit which God giveth to the regenerate.
If your heart is cold and heavy today dear friend please know that God can transform it right now. God has promised His people that if we are willing to admit our sin and seek His face with an undivided heart, he will remove our cold, dead hearts of stone and replace them with living hearts of flesh.
Dear Lord we desire hearts of flesh that are responsive your Word. Help us to invert our hearts towards you and to repent of our sins immediately when you expose them. Thank you for the Blood of Christ that is more than sufficient to cleanse us from the toxic effects of sin. Fill our hearts of flesh with your Spirit so that they will burn for you and help us to love others like you do. You alone deserve all honor, glory and praise forever and ever. Amen.