The more and more that we read and experience the accounts of Jesus in the Gospels, we find one big, core, common theme: Jesus is extremely concerned about the condition of our heart - so much so that He wants to transform us completely, from the inside out. While everyone else around Jesus was all about keeping the Law, Jesus came to fulfill it. It wasn't merely enough to just do or not do something, Jesus was concerned about what a Christian should be rather than what a Christian should do. Of course, what we find is that what we do flows out of who we are. As I said, Jesus is all about the heart. And so it makes perfect sense and comes as no surprise, then, when we come across Matthew 5:8, when Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (NIV)
Two things right off the bat: What does this mean to be pure in heart? And also, what does it mean to see God?
LET’S START WITH THE HEART
For something to be pure, what does that look like? Think about how you would answer that question. For something to be pure, it means that not only is it clean, but undivided. What does undivided mean here? In Discipleship Journal #138, Paul Thigpen writes: “In this context, we must understand pure to mean what is intended when we say, for example. pure gold—that is, unmixed, unadulterated, unalloyed.” He goes on to write, “If our vision of God is to grow wider, clearer, and brighter, our will must be united in a single focus on Him and an overriding desire to know and love Him.”
Whoa. We are created to have a singular and unmatched focus and vision on God. Of course, other things are constantly in competition with our hearts’ focus.
What we must understand is that not all of the things on that list are bad things! God created this world, and if we’re wealthy, it’s a gift from Him. The people in our lives that we love and admire? Yes! Gifts of God! We’re called to enjoy those things and know that they are all from Him.
“Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil—this is a gift of God. They seldom reflect on the days of their life, because God keeps them occupied with gladness of heart.” - Ecclesiastes 5:19-20
BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART
Let us enjoy all that we’ve been given. But, the problem arises when we allow anything that isn't God to compete against and win out our devotion to the only source of satisfaction and life to the full. As we can gather, those other things can become idols if we let them. Jesus says “Blessed are the pure in heart” because the hearts that are pure are undivided; there is nothing else there that is dividing the full awe, adoration, and worship that is a response to who He is. It’s only Him receiving it.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO SEE GOD?
We’ll keep this short, because it’s really straightforward now that we’ve gained an understanding of what it means to be pure in heart. Essentially, if our eyes are stolen by things that are not Him, are we truly seeing Him completely? Are we in undivided devotion at that point? I think you’d agree that the answer is no. But, what happens when we see God? When our hearts are pure? A couple of verse here will show us what happens when we see God:
“Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.” - Leviticus 9:24
“Then Ezra blessed the LORD the great God. And all the people answered, "Amen, Amen!" while lifting up their hands; then they bowed low and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.” - Nehemiah 8:6
Lastly, in Ezekiel, the prophet recollects, “As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance Such was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD And when I saw it, I fell on my face…” - Ezekiel 1:28
What are we finding here? When our hearts are pure, we will see God; and when we see God, we have no response or choice but to be moved in unadulterated and uninhibited worship. We lose ourselves as we’re found in His Lordship.