“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
I have been discussing various virtues, and this week I want to talk about purity of heart. Our Bible verse comes from the Sermon on the Mount. Blessed are the pure in heart – not the pure in head, or the pure in hand. There is a distinction between inner and outward purity. This is also different from what we know as chastity, which involves the decisions we make regarding the moral use of our bodies. Chastity is a subset of part of purity of heart, which is broader in its implications and more than the body.
As we know, people are quite capable of doing outwardly wonderful things, pure things, God-oriented things, yet still be filled with darkness. The Ten Commandments were brought to humankind to modify the way we behaved in the world. People became pretty good at following the law but were still messed up in their life impulses. Christ came to emphasize our inner spiritual domain, which affects our thoughts, attitudes, words, and behavior.
Our “heart” is the core of who we are, our mind, will, emotions, attitude, intentions, and understanding. Our “heart” is the watcher of our thoughts; that spiritual part of us that observes our thinking and feelings but is not comprised of them, nor influenced by them. It is the deepest part of us; the most connected part of us to Christ.
When we are living a life in God, there will be times when we err. We will do something foolish or hurtful. But because we turn inward to the Christ, we learn and grow, and we are transformed through our errors into something new and marvelous. That is what is meant by Psalm 32:2: Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit.
Purity, then, is recognizing God as “Source”, as the Supreme Cause, as the only real Presence and Power in all the Universe; or if you like science fiction, the only Presence and Power in all the Universes and in all dimensions.
The Greek word for “pure” in Matthew 5:8 is katharos. It means to be “clean, blameless, unstained from guilt.” The word can refer specifically to that which is purified by fire or by pruning, both of which are metaphors used in our spiritual development. In Matthew 3:11 John the Baptist told people that Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Malachi speaks of God as being like a “refiner’s fire” (Malachi 3:2).
Being pure in heart means having a mind and heart that are free from moral corruption. It involves having sincere thoughts and intentions that are not contaminated with darkness or mixed with ulterior motives. Having purity of heart is being with purpose, with intention, to have a single focus and goal of accomplishing God’s will. A pure heart is without mixture, without anything tainting it. The pure heart seeks only to find God and do God’s bidding.
That is why reference to fire – fire refines and removes any impurities in gold and silver. A substance is pure only when it’s not mixed with any other material. A ring is only pure gold if it has no other element besides gold in it. But if it’s gold plus something else, it’s not pure; it’s an alloy, or a mixture. Christ removes all worldly influences that tarnish our heart, minds, and being, leaving only what God made us to be.
Jesus also uses branches as a metaphor. In John 15:1-17, he is the vine, and we are the branches. For a vine to produce fruit, it must be pruned. Those who are truly “pure,” then, are those who have been sanctified by His refining fire and His careful pruning.
The pure in heart love God with all their heart, souls, strength, and minds. Their wills are perfectly in tune with God’s will. When we can move the thoughts and knowledge of our minds, to our “hearts”, through prayer, meditation, contemplation, and practicing the Presence of God, we become ‘pure in heart’.
Then we will see God; we look at things with a spiritual perception and experience God’s Presence and blessings in our lives. We notice the displays of God in our life, perceive the bigger picture of Life, and understand our interconnectedness. We observe God’s hand in everything and know that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around us. We are not constrained by the physical world; we are not of this world, but are spiritual energy within a human body, living in an earthly environment, having a human experience.
When our hearts are pure, we see God in everyone and everything. We are at peace and feel divine joy and love despite what the body is going through. Our minds and hearts are open to Christ and there is a free flow of Christ energy surging through us.
When we first encountered the idea of Jesus, we opened our hearts to receive him. We received the idea of Christ and the salvation he brought, and we were born again into the divine life of God. But Christ does not want to just be received by us; he wants to dwell within us and grow in our heart. It is the purity of our heart, the singleness of our heart that allows his presence to flourish.
As human beings, almost anything can create a division within our heart. The Bible calls it being ‘double-minded,’ where we hold loyalties to God and to the world. Sometimes these divisions are easy to see. “I am very environmentally conscious. Now excuse me, I need to take my new Bugatti Chiron out for a spin. It gets 9 miles to the gallon.” It’s clear that this person may be ecologically conscious, but still enjoys the benefits of a worldly vehicle. It is easy, but painful, to spot hypocrisy within ourselves.
At other times it is difficult to discern our distractions. We may want to get an advanced degree, and it begins to take up so much or our time, energy, and focus, that we stop praying, visiting with God, and lose our way. The degree may be of benefit, but we have lost our spiritual balance and have become double-minded.
Purity of the heart relies on balance – being in the world, but not of the world. Seeing and experiencing, but not judging. Loving people, not using people. Love the person, judge the deed. Having wealth and success, but not letting it define us and dictate our morality. Money is not the root of evil, the love of money is. Living with and enjoying abundance but not being enslaved by it is having a pure heart. A pure heart tells us that money, power, and wealth are gifts, tools, not the ultimate goal. God is the goal, so how can I use these God-given gifts and tools to benefit others?
Finding purity of heart is not easy. We must be willing to change our thinking and perspective and be open to God. Let us trust Christ and ask for what we want. “My beloved Christ, I thank you for coming to me as love, light, and life. I want to be pure in heart. Show me if I have any goal or aim other than You. Lord, I want my heart to be single for You and Your will so You can grow in me. Teach me how to use your blessings as tools without ego or personal desire.”
This is my prayer: that we can continuously live with a pure heart. I pray that we will take the time to practice and pay attention to our purity levels. It is my prayer that we relate to every member of God’s family and the world in a way that respects and honors the full dignity, value, and destiny of every person and everything.