“Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.”
The heart, in Scripture, was seen as the centre of the personality. It was the centre of everyone’s being and the source of every activity – whether mental, physical or emotional. Man’s troubles were seen to stem from this centre.
“The heart [is] deceitful above all [things], and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9.KJV)
Jesus criticised the Pharisees accusing them of being ceremonially clean externally but with unclean hearts, full of extortion and wickedness. He compared then to ‘white-washed tombs’- good looking on the outside but filled with death within. Luther, commenting on this beatitude, said that in fact it did not matter if men such as labourers and blacksmiths were clothed in dirt as those who pondered God’s word and obeyed it would be ‘pure in heart’ in His eyes.
However, in its context within the Sermon on the Mount, and with reference to the rest of Scripture, it seems that Jesus would have had more in mind. Without excluding the inward and moral aspects of it He would be referring also to the whole question of their relationship with God. Professor Tasker has explained it as ‘the single-minded, who are free from the tyranny of a divided self.’ This would relate also to Jesus later comment that a person cannot serve two masters,
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)
The single-hearted person is seen as being ‘utterly sincere’ in his whole relationship with and commitment to God. His heart will be totally focussed on and devoted to God. So David would pray,
- “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” (Psalm 86:11-12)
- “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
It also explains the first Great Commandment which calls us to love God ‘with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ Another way of putting it would be to say with every fibre of your being.
Clearly this is beyond both our honest will and our own ability. However, by the grace of God, we have divine help in the form of the Holy Spirit. As we look increasingly towards God for help and open ourselves to Him, the Spirit is enabled to work.
- “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
- “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:13)
Here at the central point of the Beatitudes we find this vital and telling truth. It reminds us that we cannot afford to be casual about our relationship with God, nor can we afford to be casual about our attitude to sin in our lives. In His love He has dealt with our sin. By His grace we have His Holy Spirit to transform us from within. New life with God is ours for the living – how can we hold back!
Turn to God and ask for help.
Lord Jesus, I want to give you an undivided heart and to live in and from Your love. Please help me. Amen.