“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 NIV
The very first time I studied the Beatitudes in depth was back in the Fall of 2008 in Cairo, Egypt. My team and I spent the days walking the streets of that ancient city, praying as we went, and our mornings were spent together in Matthew 5:1-12. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. Those moments in God’s Word in this passage in that place changed my life forever.
Oh, to be pure in heart! What would that look like? And to see God? I can hardly imagine. But, here we find those very words penned in Scripture, words spoken from the mouth of Jesus, and we will spend the next few weeks together unpacking them.
When approaching the study of God’s Word, it always helps to have a good understanding of the words you’re reading. On that note, let’s purpose ourselves to define what it is to be pure in heart. Once we have that down, we’ll spend the remainder of this blog series seeking to apply purity of heart in our lives. I’m going to suggest two basic definitions of what Jesus was talking about here in Matthew 5:8, and I want to invite you to take some time to reflect on each one. Are you ready?
#1—To be pure in heart is to be morally unstained or clean.
OK, wow! So, you’re probably thinking, “Then, who could qualify?” I don’t blame you for going there, but hold that thought for just a minute, and stay with me. This definition is not suggesting sinless perfection, because we know that was reserved for Jesus Christ and Him alone. What it is speaking of is the integrity of your inward motives and your outward behavior. Now, that is something we can more easily wrap our minds around. We can’t be perfect, but we can live lives of integrity.
As you reflect on this definition, take just a few minutes to respond to these questions. Are you the same person in private as you are in public? Do you seek to do right things (obedience to God) with pure motives (to please God), or are you after the praise and recognition of people? Would your life give anyone reason to be shocked if they were to find out that you were a Christian?
OK, are you ready for the second one?
#2—To be pure in heart is to be free from duplicity in your relationships with others.
This definition takes us one step further. While the first definition causes us to primarily look inward, this one forces us to look outward. Does division or rivalry exist between you and anyone else? Are you a peacemaker or a peace breaker? Are you loving and good towards some while withholding that same generosity from others? Do you say you love God but live in such a way that only reveals your greatest affections are reserved for something or someone else? To be pure in heart is to not have a divided heart. Again, take just a few minutes to reflect on the questions above.
I think the point that Jesus was trying to make in this statement is that being a Christ follower is intended to set you apart from the world in which you live. Most people live with divided relationships, and many people refuse reconciliation. Most people justify immoral living and silence the conviction that impure motives bring. Jesus calls us to a much higher standard. He sets the bar. Because when we aim to be pure in heart, friends, we get to see God. More on that in the weeks to come, but for now, eagerly await that blessing!
Jesus, your Word is life. Your Word is true. Thank you for calling us to a higher standard, one that will set us apart from this world, not so that people will praise us, but rather so that people will see you. Be seen in us, today, Jesus. Amen.