“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
If I could be known for having a pure heart before God and men, I would say that would be enough. There are many things in this life which compete for my efforts and affections, but this one thing I want so much more: to be pure in heart. Because I want to see God.
Since our vertical relationship with the Lord will always be far more important than our horizontal relationship with others, we will begin with that as our focus this week as we seek after pure hearts, and we’ll reserve next week to focus on our relationships with others. Can you remember our two definitions for pure in heart? In short, our definitions were to live a life of integrity both in thought and action and to not have a divided heart in our relationships with God and others.
With these in mind, let’s take a look at a few verses from the Psalms today. Open your Bible with me to Psalm 24:3-4, and if you can, read the words out loud.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.” (ESV)
I chose the English Standard Version intentionally because of the word choice used: “…lift up his soul to what is false…” The NIV says, “…who does not trust in an idol…” While I also love the clarity of that wording, I think that we might be quick to excuse ourselves from the conversation of trusting in idols because it sounds so Old Testament and golden calf. Therefore, in an attempt to remain humble, teachable, followers of Jesus, let’s lean into the tension today with open ears and open hearts. Here is another way to understand what is being said here in Psalm 24:
How often do you look for fulfillment, satisfaction, hope, promise, or even purpose in anything or anyone other than Jesus? This would be lifting up your soul to what is false. Are your greatest affections reserved first for the Lord and then for others, or do certain things or people seem to come before Him? When Jesus spoke of a pure heart in Matthew 5:4, this is what He was alluding to. Is your heart divided? Who or what is the first thing you turn to when you need advice? Who or what serves as your greatest source of comfort? Take a few minutes to reflect on and respond to these questions.
A divided heart clouds our vision of what is most important. When our desires are split between the things of God and the things of this world, our spiritual eyesight becomes increasingly blurry and our discernment is greatly influenced. It’s all tied back to a pure heart. When our motives are pure, then our actions will follow in that purity. When our actions are pure, so then will be our character. When we are pure in heart, we can see God because there’s no wall of sin separating Him from our sight.
When was the last time that God felt far away, out of reach, unattainable? When you search for God, are you after what you can get from Him, or do you just want Jesus? God sees our hearts. He knows when our intentions are pure and when they aren’t. We would do ourselves a huge favor if we stopped trying to deceive Him and instead, came before Him with honest, pure hearts. Because the one who will ascend the hill of the Lord, stand in His holy place, and see God is the one who comes with a pure heart, with nothing to gain but Jesus.
Father God, we want to see you. We want to know you. We want you to be our greatest affection and our deepest love. Give us pure hearts toward you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.