Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:8 (HCSB)
The pure in heart are blessed, for they will see God.
Today’s Question: What is the number one barrier to seeing God’s work in your life?
I must tell you that I believe Simply Orange is the best juice I have ever tasted. On the ingredient list is just one item- oranges. But I compare that ingredient list with other juice cartons and I see many names I cannot pronounce. Also disappointing with the inferior juices is a first ingredient of filtered water. If I wanted water in my juice, I would add that myself. Water is basically free at my house! Yet, even Simply Orange, as good as it is, has some flaws. I am sure that every now and then something else falls into the juice-making machine — an orange stem, a leaf, a bug, or a worker’s sock. Who knows? But the best they should really claim is that it is 99.98% pure.
This is much like the world we live in, where few things are truly pure. Yet, it you ask people the question, “Are you a good person?” most often you will get an answer of “Yes.” The reason people believe in their own goodness is because we tend to compare ourselves with the wrong standard. We look at the news headlines of the day, with murders, rape, child abductions, etc., and conclude that we are good because we are not one of “those types” of people. But Jesus gave a different standard when He stated, “Blessed are the pure in heart…”
When Jesus taught this truth in His great sermon (Matthew 5-7), he must have looked directly at the Pharisees who had infiltrated the crowd that day. They were the epitome of the “holier than thou” attitude. They looked the part of righteousness and believed that they were good (better than others). Later in His ministry, Jesus would confront these religious leaders with the truth of their status before God by stating, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27-28, HCSB) Take notice, Jesus used His most forceful words and harshest critique for those who believed they were closest to God.
So how can one be “pure in heart” since all of us have sinned? We do not deserve salvation; and only by the grace and mercy of God are we forgiven. Ray Pritchard makes a great point: “In this context being “pure in heart” means to have no double allegiance.” Pure in heart is a love for God that compares to none else. To be “pure in heart” is to focus on Christ so intently that all else in the world fades.
One of the first men to experience this was Job. Job was afflicted in every way, seemingly losing everything. Yet, instead of turning from God, he chose to run to God. God revealed Truth to Job and his eyes were opened. In Job 42:5-6, we read his response to God: “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”(ESV) Do you see the difference? Prior to coming before God in repentance and brokenness, Job had “heard of” God. But now He had seen God, which was a moment of radical life-change.
We cannot see the hand of God at work when we chose to sin. When we run to God, He cleanses us, purifies us, and sets us free from sin. Would you spend a few moments today pondering this thought: Am I more like the Pharisees, proclaiming my own “goodness,” or am I walking in grace, purified by the Lord through faith?
“Follow One, Lead Others” Principle #7: Followers of Christ guard their hearts against sinfulness so that they can see the work of God in and around them.
Today’s Prayer Point: Ask God to help you see Him clearly today and to help you “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5) so that you will not sin against Him.