You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. — Matthew 5:8 (The Message)
Notice that God does NOT say, “Blessed are the perfect.” Purity of heart, that is, the inner life, is not the same thing as perfection. This beatitude is for normal people who mess up, who fail, who sin, who don’t have it together, who think less of themselves than they should. “Purity” means those who seek and serve God in accordance with the truth in his Word and in the power and presence of the Spirit of God. It is not merely being sincere or honest. It is being sincere and honest before God. And such purity indicates a loving relationship with God that is both ongoing and transformative. Jesus once said that the problem with being clean or pure is not what is on the outside, but what is on the inside:
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander (Matthew 15:18,19).
As the inside world is made clean by the forgiveness one receives from God through Jesus Christ, he or she is made “pure.”
Inside spiritual health is what purity of heart is all about. The joy of such a heart is to “see God.” Certainly, to see Him in heaven, but to also have a spiritual perception of God in the here and now that delights in and rejoices in imitating his character quality of holiness. Those who have such hearts grow in their practice of purity:
With promises like this to pull us on, dear friends, let’s make a clean break with everything that defiles or distracts us, both within and without. Let’s make our entire lives fit and holy temples for the worship of God (2 Corinthians 7:1, The Message).
Those who are pure in heart are being transformed daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and for a lifetime.
Such spirituality comes from several avenues:
- a true, inward desire to please God in and through Jesus Christ
- the intentional, spiritual self-discipline to avoid those “admixtures” to the faith that seep into us and stain or tarnish our relationship with God
- trusted friends and accountability partners who will help us maintain a sincere walk before God.
Intentional prayer is also needed to help us guard our thoughts and desires and steps during our days here. Just because no one can see into our hearts does not mean we cannot practice serious spiritual care of our inner self. This beatitude supposes that we will want to be pleasing to our God, a God of absolute holiness and profound grace and love.
Lord, today, help me “come clean” with You. Forgive me of the stains and sins that tarnish and corrupt my relationship with You. Help me through your forgiveness and grace not take that grace for granted. Give me a pure heart, O God, to behold You in the here and now and for all eternity.
Note: For the Beautitude series follow this link.
Olrik, Henrik, 1830-1890. Sermon on the Mount, detail, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55347 (retrieved July 23, 2014). Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sankt_Matthaeus_Kirke_Copenhagen_altarpiece_detail3.jpg#.
About the author:
A Christ-follower and mentor of leaders and churches whose life plan is to make an eternal difference in lives for Jesus Christ. Carl currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Cross Roads Brethren in Christ Church (Mount Joy, PA), President of Carl Shank Consulting, and as a Board Member of the Mount Joy Chamber of Commerce. B. S. in Mathematics from Dickinson College. M. Div. and Th. M. from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia Campus). Carl's insights have been a great encouragement to Thomas B. Grosh IV, Associate Director, Emerging Scholars Network. To God be the glory!