Blessed are the Pure in Heart

Catching Sight of God

            I grew up in the era of Ivory Soap. There were two unusual things about Ivory, it could float and it was 99 and 44/100 % pure. I realize that someone might well ask, “Pure what”? Or, as I often wondered, “What was the 56/100% all about”? Nevertheless, the overwhelmingly high level of purity did duly impress.

            Ivory Soap’s preponderance of purity is actually a very good illustration of the point Jesus makes in Matthew 5:8. The reason for this is that purity has much more to do with what is present than what is absent. Consider this, a heart may be largely free of impurity, and yet be empty and cold. Such a heart will not, however, remain unfilled. If pure attitudes and motives do not take up residence, an empty heart will soon be occupied with evil things (Lk. 11:24-26; Matt. 15:19). 

            In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus reveals His keen interest in matters of the heart. A good heart must back up our conduct if it is to be accepted by Jesus (Matt. 5:27-28). Words and deeds must be supported by a heart of integrity if they are to please the Christ (Matt. 5:33-37; 6:1).

            Purity of heart is about singleness of purpose. The pure heart is not an unsettled sea of conflicting desires; it is a place of peace dominated by united intentions. A singular spiritual focus sorts out a host of conflicting loyalties and drives the heart toward the service of but one master (Matt. 6:24). So attentive is the pure heart to the call of Christ, it consistently turns a deaf ear to all other voices (cf. Jn. 10:1-5; II Cor. 5:14-15).

            In its captivated focus, purity of heart has a strong link to holiness. To be holy is to be set apart from commonplace priorities and concerns; it is to be like God (Lev. 19:2; II Cor. 7:1). This positive, set-apart direction of the heart correctly attunes our sight through the focus of faith (II Cor. 5:7; Matt. 6:22-22-23). In this way we come to see as God sees. This corrected vision with its purity of sight allows us to see what otherwise cannot be seen (Jn. 1:18). The pure of heart are thus among a privileged few who catch a glimpse of the greatest un-seeable sight of all. The pure of heart have an uncluttered, singular look at God!

 

Advertisements

THE EXASPERATING JESUS

Jesus, Enough Already!

Have you ever considered that Jesus was the most exasperating man who ever lived? Yes, you read me correctly; He was the most exasperating man who ever lived. He never let up. He totally, uncompromisingly, relentlessly expected excellence. He was untiringly committed to the Father’s will (Jn. 4:34).

Who would want a Savior like that? I mean, really, isn’t that all just a bit much, especially knowing we are all a bunch of sinful mortals? Indeed, who would want a Jesus like that?

I would, that’s who! I don’t want Jesus to compromise truth. An enabler wouldn’t be useful to me. A “lets-all-just-get-along” Jesus is of no use as a model of true holiness (Rom. 8:29). Yes, I need a Savior who will lovingly, caringly, nurture me in nothing but righteousness.

We all need patience, not a pass, but patience. Games and spins that indulge us may appear to be godly, but they are not—we all know that! I want a compassionate Savior (Matt. 9:36-38), but He needs to look me in the eye and tell me the truth (Mk. 12:14; Jn.14:2).

 Please don’t get me wrong; I desperately need all the grace I can get (Lk. 17:10). The compelling character of Jesus is heavily dependent on grace; but grace without holiness is not attractive, it is ungodly (Rom. 11:22).

My challenge for us all is to read about Jesus every day. The exasperating, merciful, righteous, and loving Jesus we discover is just what we need to inspire us to eagerly reach for Christ-likeness. Yes, though we need all the love we can get, we desperately need an exasperating Savior!