They are blessed whose thoughts are pure [or whose hearts are pure; the pure in heart] for they will see God. Matthew 5:8
In our look at Christ’s mountainside teaching on the beatitudes, this one has been more difficult to pull together. The trouble lies in determining exactly what constituted a pure heart and whether such a thing truly existed this side of heaven. Digging a bit deeper I had to wonder just how far my own heart tended to wander from the ‘pure’ state that Jesus spoke of.
Jesus declared those who are pure in heart to be blessed. This is where I was originally perplexed. What does it mean to be pure in heart? In Hebraic thought the heart refers to the whole person … the mind, emotions, will & inner life. (https://www.hebrew4christians.com) The problem is that by God’s standard man’s heart is in bad shape, and therefore, by Hebraic reasoning, the whole person is spiritually unhealthy. In the book of Jeremiah He clearly states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) The situation doesn’t improve as we look in the New Testament just a few chapters beyond Jesus’ sermon in the book of Matthew, “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)
There are many words to describe pure: uniform, uncontaminated, chaste, virgin, complete, ritually clean, sinless, etc. None of these words are a match for the condition of the human heart. Our Father longs for a heart that longs for Him. He wants our undivided love and devotion. He wants the whole person who is passionately sold out for Him and completely in love with Him. “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matthew 22:37) And He isn’t asking for anything that He hasn’t already given. “We love him, because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Again in what has probably become one of the most famous of all scriptures, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Frankly, He wants you, He wants me and He isn’t satisfied until He has us completely. The Old Testament is filled with references to God’s jealousy for us. “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:24)
So, now I have a dilemma. I know I need God. But God desires a pure (clean & undivided) heart that chases after Him and Him alone. My experience has been that, in myself, I am not capable of that. I’ve let Him down on so many occasions. And yet, only He is deserving of my love and praise. Only He has given the ultimate sacrifice for me – the life of His Only Son. Only He has pledged eternal love for me while I still had my back toward Him. Only Abba … Father has loved me as no earthly parent, lover or friend ever could.
Then it hit me. What does medical science do with a sick heart that cannot be repaired? I get put on a waiting list and hopefully, at the right time, with the right match, I get a new heart … someone else’s heart. And this is what God has done for me. Except, there is no waiting list. He has already waiting an eternity for me to make the decision to turn to Him. He stood watching for me to travel the path to Him and ran to embrace me just as the Father ran to embrace the returning prodigal son. And He already had a heart that was the right match … His heart. “God says, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)
In this search I have discovered that a pure heart is His heart. And as I accept it as my own I can say that it does indeed exist this side of heaven. But as in any earthly heart transplant, anti-rejection drugs are needed to sustain this exchange and keep the new heart functioning. My flesh recognizes that it is foreign to the earthly body. As my new heart works to conform me to its owner/donor, my flesh works to reject it and have it’s own way. The anti-rejection drugs for this heavenly transplant consist of a daily, eternal prescription of the Word, and prayer administered by God’s Holy Spirit.
So, as I am sitting here realizing my own weakness, my own desperation and my own deep isolation apart from God, I am encouraged in the knowledge that I have been chosen, adopted by an everlasting, ever-loving Father. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so also are we in this world.” (1 John 4: 16-17)
Christ taught that the pure in heart are blessed for they shall see God. Like King David, my daily prayer will be, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) My renewed goal has become to draw nearer to Him and accept His invitation to fellowship daily. “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” (James 4:8) It is in His presence that we see Him.
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.
He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psalm 24: 3 – 5