“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8
When was the last time there was zero strife, tension, or division in your relationships? Was there ever such a time? When were you last offended by someone, and it left you wounded, maybe even bitter? When was the last time you offended someone else?
As you ponder your answers to these questions, grab your Bible, and find Matthew 6:14-15. We’ve spent the past two weeks pursuing not only an understanding of the pure in heart, but also how to become pure in heart. It starts with integrity. Are you the same person when nobody is watching as you are when all eyes are on you? To be pure in heart means that our relationship with God reserves first place in our lives because we refuse to allow lesser things to compete with Him, and it also means that our relationships with others are not divided. And this will be our focus today: to be pure in heart towards others.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15 NIV
These are perhaps some of the most sobering words Jesus uttered, and we find them tucked within the very same message in which He preached the Beatitudes: The Sermon on the Mount. It’s almost as if He followed up on Matthew 5:8 with Matthew 6:14-15 just to ensure we wouldn’t miss what He was trying to say. And how could we possibly miss this when it is written so clearly?
To be pure in heart is to possess an undivided heart in our relationship with God and with others, but we live in a very divided world. This division creates much fallout in our relationships. We are given more opportunities than we can count to choose forgiveness each and every day, but how often do we?
Forgiveness is hard, and at times, it seems nearly impossible. Releasing someone from the debt that they owe you seems like too much to ask, but isn’t that exactly what Jesus did for you and for me? He paid so that we wouldn’t have to. That is forgiveness. It’s erasing the debt. To choose forgiveness is to be found pure in heart.
Can you think of all of the people who have forgiven you over the years? What offenses did they choose to erase by extending forgiveness to you?
Now that you’ve reflected on the blessing of receiving forgiveness from others, take a few minutes to think about who it is that you need to forgive. Don’t qualify your answer based on whether or not they have asked you for forgiveness. Simply list the names of those who you know you need to forgive.
Sin of any kind separates us from God, and here in Matthew 6, we can see that the result of this separation is His forgiveness being withheld from us. So, what is required of us?
Notice how I used the word “choose.” Forgiveness is a choice. It’s an act of the will, and because it is a choice, forgiveness is not impossible. When we refuse to forgive, essentially what we are saying is that while God’s sacrifice on the cross was enough to forgive me of my sins, it was not sufficient to cover their sins. When we refuse to forgive, God makes us a promise here in His Word. He promises that He won’t forgive us.
To be pure in heart is to refuse to allow your heart to be divided. Some of us need to get our heats right before the Lord today on this matter of forgiveness. Some of us need our hearts to be purified. Because, friends, the pure in heart will see God. I want to be among those who see.
Jesus, give us the grace, compassion, and humility to choose forgiveness, even when it’s hard. Help us to forgive just as you have forgiven us.