“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Two launchpads for meditation. The first launchpad considers what it means to not have a pure heart. We’ll use the Pharisees as a case study. The Pharisees were members of a Jewish sect, known for their strict observance of the written law and oral traditions. They prided themselves on personal piety and thought they had obtained superior sanctity. However, throughout the gospels, Jesus critiques them.
For example, in Matthew 23:27-28, Jesus says, “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs—beautiful on the outside but filled on the inside with dead people’s bones and all sorts of impurity. Outwardly you look like righteous people, but inwardly your hearts are filled with hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
Although the Pharisees meticulously sought to follow every detail of the external aspects of the law, Jesus sees beyond the façade. Their hearts are filled with lawlessness. They are corrupt.
But their lawless, corrupt hearts are not unique. Impure hearts are the default of fallen, broken humanity. As Jesus says in Matthew 15:19, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Since the heart is the center of our inner worlds- our thoughts, emotions, desires, plans, and commitments, an impure heart corrupts our whole life. As indicated by the prophet Ezekiel, we need new hearts- pure hearts.
The second launchpad for meditation explores what it means to be pure in heart. Our thoughts, emotions, desires, plans, and commitments must be pure. Our inner worlds that overflow in outer actions must be pure. This is a central teaching in Jesus’ sermon on the mount. For example, lust is adultery in the heart and murder is rooted in anger.
From a human perspective, a total transformation of our hearts is impossible, but I cling to the words of God as recorded in Ezekiel 11:19 where it says, “And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.”
I long for more of a pure heart- for God’s Spirit to transform my impure thoughts, emotions, desires, plans, and commitments into an undivided devotion to God. I long to see God, to experience more of his presence. I long to experience the blessing in this beatitude and the parallel blessing described by David in Psalm 24:3-6, which reads, “Who may climb the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? Only those whose hands and hearts are pure, who do not worship idols and never tell lies. They will receive the Lord’s blessing and have a right relationship with God their savior. Such people may seek you and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.”
I long for God’s Spirit to work in my heart. And as He purifies my heart, I long to experience more of His presence. And as I experience more of His presence, my heart will be made pure once more. Indeed, it is a positive feedback loop.
My prayer is for a pure heart to experience God’s presence today, and the fullness of His presence in the life to come. Or as David prayed in Psalm 51:10, “create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”