A Pure Heart
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” Psalm. 24:3-5
“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8
Purity, piety, guilelessness, virtuousness, Godliness are terms not often used in everyday conversation and too often when they are mentioned it is in some form of judgment or demand for an unattainable human perfection, usually to satisfy someone’s ultra-religious perception represented in outward appearances of dress or hair style, cosmetics or no cosmetics, a look of “holiness” with eyes always looking upward and to the right with the head slightly tilted with arms and hands in a prayerful posture.
Despite those misconceptions, the Scriptures do call us to these, purity, piety, guilelessness, virtuousness and Godliness. The question is how do we get there and how do we know when we do?
Do we wake up in the morning with a pure heart because we didn’t sin willfully while we slept? And as we go through the day does that purity, if indeed we had it, drain out of us so that we end the day as just poor, wretched sinners who screwed it up as the day went on?
No. But let’s first define our terms. What is purity? Yesterday we talked about the purity of God. And that is not difficult to understand because we know that God is perfect. He defines perfection for all that He has created. So, we begin there. Purity of heart is being in perfect agreement with God’s purposes, plans, motives and righteousness, all of which we can know by His Word.
Simply stated, when our words, our actions and heart’s intent line up with His righteousness and love, then we are living with a pure heart. We are acting with a pure motive, we are giving and forgiving prompted by genuine love and care for the things, the ones God loves and cares about.
Now we can do these things even when we don’t feel necessarily pure. We can be conflicted in our motivation but still do what is right before God out of obedience, and this is pleasing to God.
It may be hard to love an enemy as we love our friend with the same feeling of love. But love is not ultimately about how we feel. It is at its core all about what we do. Is your enemy hungry feed him? Is he thirsty? Give him drink. [Romans 12:20] Whatever we would do to meet the basic needs of life for a friend that same love is what Jesus calls us to extend to our enemies because that is what He did and does.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:44-45
“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” Luke 6:26-28
“And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” Luke 6:34-36
This is the action that proceeds from a pure heart.
“…nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, 1 Timothy 1:4-6
It’s easy to talk about religious things and get into arguments over jots and tittles of the law, but those serve no one. They only lead to strife and divisions. The pure heart resists such things but seeks to make a difference in the lives of real people facing real life issues. I have yet to meet a person in need of life’s necessities who would rather argue the efficacy of how many angels can stand on the head of pin than be given a hot meal or a warm place to lay their head.
The heart that is pure seeks to be God’s hands extended and feet to carry the good news to the world, Good News expressed in righteousness, charity (love) and peace.
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” 2 Timothy 2:20-23
The pure heart is also one that is driven by a passionate fervor to show love to those in the household of faith, to lift up, to edify and support one another, not tear down, criticize, impugn and demean in any way, knowing that we are all one body, serving One Lord, baptized into one faith, cleansed by one blood, sealed by One Holy Spirit.
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Peter 1:22-23
Having a pure heart is not about attaining to some hyper-holy state of perfection where we live with a soft glowing light surrounding as we float through life with our feet never touching the ground. Jesus did not live that way as a man and we are not called to do so either. But, we can and do seek, by the power of the Holy Spirit in us, to live as purely before God and men as we are able, choosing in every moment, day by day to live in obedience to God’s commandment of love.
“And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
If we seek love daily and pursue it with all our hearts then we will know that our hearts are pure.