A few weeks ago I wrote “Looking for Blessing, not Luck“ – about the “Sermon on the Mount” blessings. One particular blessing, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God,” drew me in and invited me to take a closer look.
It is said that “familiarity breeds contempt,” which describes how even something dear to us can lose significance and impact in our lives when we stop considering its value. In light of this, I have been carefully considering two precious truths in this blessing, in order to discover what they really mean to me.
- What does it mean to love God with all my heart (purity of heart)?
- What does it mean to see God?
Let’s face it, most religion is performance based because it really is easier to look at the outward appearance of things – and people.
It is also easy to fall into the trap of believing that all that is required of me is that I show up on Sunday and give a certain amount of time to service.
But God is not so easily impressed. If what is in my heart is the thing that God cares about (and he is pretty clear on this) then it is to my advantage to let him take a closer look – because I know that whatever he finds there, he won’t use to condemn or hurt me, but rather to set me free and draw me close. I just love that about him, don’t you?
Pure in Heart
The heart represents the place of our being, encompassing our emotions, thoughts, will and character.
So…purity of heart means that very essence of who I am is fully engaged in this relationship that I have with God, and that I give the whole of myself in sincere devotion to God, with the desire to please, love, and obey him.
John Piper puts it this way:
“Purity of heart is to will one thing, namely, God’s truth and God’s value in everything we do. The aim of the pure heart is to align itself with the truth of God and magnify the worth of God. If you want to be pure in heart, pursue God with utter single-mindedness. Purity of heart is to will that one thing.“
The bible says:
“Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” – Hebrews 12:14
The reward for this kind of commitment is that the more that I give of myself to him, the more that he reveals himself to me.
But herein lies the problem. The problem that has slowed me down for weeks.
How can I write about this “purity of heart/holiness/single-minded devotion” when I feel that my own heart is so impure – so full of sin? I wanted an honest look, but what I saw made me cringe. I struggle with pride, selfishness, greed, doubt, judgement, and envy… just to name a few.
- What would it have hurt me to stop and give the man a few dollars for his magazine. He didn’t harass me – he just smiled – and it looked like his back hurt from standing long hours in one spot? Too late and shamed by my failure, I make my way home.
- Why do I hold so tightly – so selfishly – to grains of time so that they run through my hands like water?
- Why do I doubt God’s goodness and love for me, when I have had proof of it over and over again?
- Why do I struggle to forgive when I know how much I need it in my life – and how much I have received?
- Why am I jealous of the success of others when God tells me that I am wonderfully made and that he has a unique purpose for my life?
- Why is it that only after the fact, I think of how I could have responded in a kind, caring, and loving way? Why was I afraid to speak?
- Why am I afraid that I won’t have enough?
These questions fill my mind and heart as I ponder the enigma of wanting to see God and to know Him, when my heart remains so flawed.
Today, as I walk home on this sunlit day, I reach out to God with these questions, and He speaks simply and directly into my heart:
- To the extent that I judge others, I will see the worst of others. I will see too, the worst of me.
- To the extent that I am envious of the success of others, I will fail to realize my own worth and potential.
- To the extent that I look away from need, and fail to feel compassion, I will miss an opportunity to bless and to comfort.
Every lost opportunity to share God’s goodness and love is a lost opportunity to see God.
Yet oddly, my failure no longer feels like cast stones of accusation battering against my heart. Because the promises are greater. Because God wants me to succeed – not fail. And he has promised to help me.
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Gal.2:13
Suddenly and quietly, I am warmed with hope that my ordinary life is filled with opportunities that God invites me to participate in.
I will “see” God:
- Every time I take a moment to smile, to speak kindly and boldly, to offer hope and encouragement
- Every time I give the gift of time or money to someone who needs it
- Every time that I resist the pursuit of recognition and accolades
- Every time I truly forgive and when I desire the best for someone else
- Every time I give of my time to listen, to encourage, to pray,
- Every time I trust that what God says is true
- Every time I say thank you – God bless you
- Every time I seek to do what is right – to believe what is true
I treasure a little book written in the 7th century by a French monk by the name of Brother Lawrence – “Practicing the Presence of God.” He taught simply that we can arrive at the place of intimacy with God through any activity, however mundane, simply by remaining attentive to God. To me this represents giving 100% of my time and 100% of my love to God, for the reward of “knowing” or “seeing” God. Purity of Heart focus!
Purity of heart seems to require an intensity of purpose that is challenging in this world, which is filled with an abundance of other attractions and distractions – not to mention real demands of our time and attention. Yet, this truth stands as a challenge for us to consider what it is that we really value. The world? God? Or do we want both – even though God says that we cannot truly love both?
What do I love? Does it show?
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Thank you Diane – God is True!!
So good to hear from you, Thea. God is true, indeed. Such an amazing comfort to hold on to. I love his truth. Love and Blessing to you!
Thank you for sharing Diane. The questions you ask of yourself are the same I think we all ask at some point in our journey. Hard lessons, yet never learned alone. We have the master creator who always protects, always loves, and always leads. I have found that when he is refining intently that I am placed in a tight place…a shelter per se. And that alone brings me comfort when I am struggling.
I find myself so introspective these days – and I am pushing myself to be as honest as I can in my faith journey. I don’t find it easy – but I do find it necessary. God bless you, my friend.
Thank you Diane. This one hit home for me.
Thank you, Annette, for letting me know that. I find it so helpful when we, as believers, can encourage each other to pursue holiness, without which no one will see God. I am glad that we are sisters of the heart in this.
Diane, I loved your quote by both Piper and Brother Andrew, and as you know – Tozer is another insightful author whose focus is ‘heart holiness’ or heart purity’. How we need the inward witness and outward fruit of our heart. While reading, I reflected on my own journey over the years and have become aware that ‘the closer I draw to God, the greater my hunger for his holiness’ to fill my heart with His perspective for life. Also, the greater that hunger, the greater is the work and presence of the Holy Spirit drawing us. God promises ‘soul rest’ but my personal experience is that I have seasons of that rest which more reflect my own seasons of spiritual growth and then, He draws me into the next lesson in the ‘refiners’ fire’. I Peter 1:7 ‘These have come so that the proven genuineness of our faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.’
And…. so, I walk by faith not by sight in my awesome God.
Good words, Kay. The authentic life of faith requires fortitude and perseverance and brutal honesty, but brings sweet rewards beyond anything that the world offers. It is tough, though, to resist the attractions of the world and this is where we must encourage one another towards love and good deeds. I find good authors who can do that – and also good friends. God bless you, Kay.