“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).
“See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:1-3).
Sometimes, a beatitude can sound like a curse. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart,” and then we search our hearts. They are not completely pure. There is some dust, dirt, grime, and other gunk hidden in our hearts. We know it; we might be able to hide it from our pastor, fellow church members, co-workers, and neighbors, but we know we cannot hide it from God. He knows our hearts are not 100% pure. They are not even the 99.44% pure that a popular brand of soap used to boast.
We should take comfort. Purification is a lifelong process. It begins with salvation when we come to faith in Jesus and become children of God. As children, we should grow and become more like our Father, but it is a process. Even if we fail, we remain His children. Corporations fire their employees for not measuring up. Good Fathers do not fire their children. They may discipline them (Hebrews 12:7-11), but they do not fire them. We have an entire lifetime to continue purification.
Purification begins with the confession of sin and repentance. We might slip or stumble back into sin—perhaps returning to old bad habits—but God does not give up on us. The Holy Spirit continues to reveal the impurity of our hearts to us so that we can confess, repent, seek renewed purification, and continue to follow Jesus.
This process will continue until the day we die and will not end until “He appears.” Scripture assures us that we will see Him, and at that time, we will be like Him. We will be pure, as He is pure. We will be holy, as He is holy.
Disciples of Jesus purify ourselves, just as He is pure because the hope of eternal life is our inspiration. This blog’s “tag line” is “Living today with an eye on eternity.” May that always be our goal. We have to live today. Many of us have to work in secular jobs, doing tasks or providing services or products that seem to have no connection to our faith. Somehow, we try to find a way to live out our faith while doing our jobs. We also have other areas of our life besides church, Bible study, and prayer: hobbies, relationships with others, and just trying to get through the next day. We do not ignore these areas of our lives. True biblical holiness—genuine purity of heart—is not “pie in the sky” spirituality that makes us too heavenly-minded to be any earthly good. Instead, it is a real-world faith that recognizes that our life in this world is preparation for eternity. So, the hope of heaven should guide our life here, inspiring us to purify our hearts even as we go through everyday life here.
Liturgical churches will begin Lent in about three and a half weeks. During that season, many believers will engage in some sort of fast, perhaps giving up a favorite hobby or activity for 40 days. This would be a good time to look at your life, see if something is keeping you from pursuing purity, and abstain from it, at least until Easter. Take time to practice purity and purification. The wisdom of Hebrews 12:1-2 can guide us in this regard:
“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Finally, the principles about purity of heart and eternity apply to all of the Beatitudes. Do not grow discouraged if you are not scoring 100% on any of them. If you are not completely poor in spirit, gentle, or merciful—if you have not completely mourned sin and do not totally hunger and thirst from righteousness all of the time—do not give up. Keep coming to Jesus. Keep trusting Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you; do not let discouragement tempt you to turn your back on Him.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your mercy. We praise You that You do not give up on us but will continue to bring to completion the work You have started in our hearts until we see Jesus face to face. Reveal to us those areas of our hearts that need to be purified. Cleanse us and transform us to be more like Jesus. In His Name, we pray. Amen.
Have you considered giving up something for Lent? How do you think it can contribute to growing your relationship with Christ? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Copyright © 2023 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.