MATTHEW 5:8: “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”NKJV
OBSERVATION: What is the condition of my heart? Am I pure in heart? What does it mean to be pure in heart? When I ponder these questions I remember the old chorus,
Open the eyes of my heart Lord,
Open the eyes of my heart,
I want to see You,
I want to see You.
Whenever I read the Beatitudes I am always left with a sense of wanting. I want to be more like Jesus, I want to hunger and thirst after righteousness, I want my heart to be pure, and I want to see God. Yet, the reality is that I fall so terribly short in all of these categories.
Yet, what if I have been reading this checklist incorrectly all of my life? What if this is not meant to be a list of accomplishments. What if it is a set of signposts that lead us to the Lord? If they are the latter then to be pure in heart must mean something other than being perfect.
Let’s review the Beatitudes from this perspective. Here are the signposts that Jesus gives. All of these are meant to lead us into a life of abiding in His presence, of living in the blessings of the Lord!
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
This is not a call to poverty but a call to humility. It is a call to acknowledge our need for God. Humility is acknowledging our true condition without God. Without Him we are nothing. This understanding precedes all others.
“Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”
When we understand our need for God we see our true sinful condition. To mourn is to bring a heart of repentance before the Lord. James writes,
- “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:8-10 NKJV
“Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.”
To be meek is to understand the true source of power in our lives. Our strength does not come from our fortitude. Our strength is in the Lord. Jesus was meek and was filled with power as He fully submitted to the Father’s will and walked in the power of the Holy Spirit. Only in God’s power will we overcome and walk in victory!
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
Every vessel that is cleansed needs to be filled. Every vessel that is cleansed or emptied will be filled. The question is – what will it be filled with? Our lives will be filled with what we direct our hearts toward. Where our treasure is there our heart will be also. We need to cultivate the desire and thirst for righteousness as we seek the Lord! We need to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day!
Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
Only those who have experienced mercy will be able to show mercy. The woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with oil, showed such great love and mercy because she had received the same. As we become the recipients of God’s great mercy we need to also become the fountain of this mercy to others.
Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
Now we come to being pure in heart. As we have suggested, these attitudes are not accomplishments, they are signposts. They are our direction in life. We are always in pursuit of these life attitudes until the day we die. We never arrive at perfection, we simply press on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. So, if being pure in heart is not something we achieve, and if we must press on towards it to see God, then what is it?
The Greek word translated as pure is katharos. It is the root word from which we get our word catharsis. Here are the literal meanings of this word:
- clean, pure1a) physically1a1) purified by fire1a2) in a similitude, like a vine cleansed by pruning and so fitted to bear fruit. (Thayer)
The definition of our English word catharsis has some of the same connotations:
- purification or purgation that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension. (Webster)
These definitions fall right in line with Jesus’ exhortation regarding abiding in Him found in the Gospel of John.
- “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2 NKJV
Let’s put all of this together. What if being pure in heart was not unattainable? What if it was in the reach of every believer? What if it had more to do with God’s action in our lives than our accomplishments? The reality is that it is all of these things. To be pure in heart is to allow God to prune our lives. It is placing our heart in the hands of the Vinedresser so that He can take away that which is dead so we can bear more fruit.
To see God in His Word, to know Him in His love, to grow in intimacy with the Father through Jesus and the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives is the invitation and opportunity for all believers. It is not reserved for the perfect, for then it would be precluded from all. It is the fruit of all those who allow God to prune their heart. It is the process of purging, pruning, and bearing fruit. It is our lifelong pursuit in our relationship with the Father!
As we engage in this lifelong pursuit there are two final signposts that we will only mention in passing. The first is our attitude toward others, including those who oppose God. The second is the attitude of those who oppose God toward us. One is the response to God’s pruning in our life. The other is one of the tools God uses to continue this process of pruning.
Our attitude toward others:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.”
The attitude of those who oppose God toward us, and God’s promise of working all things towards good for those who love Him:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3-10 NKJV
Lord, I want to be pure in heart. As I pour over these beatitudes may my heart be directed to embrace them as the process and pathway of discipleship rather than accomplishments of my life. Grant me the grace to walk in Your light and to follow these road markers so that I can grow in my knowledge of You and Your life can be manifested in an ever-deepening way in my life.
Lord, make me pure in heart!
In Jesus Name!