Create In Me
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” ~ I Samuel 16:7
The sixth beatitude focuses exclusively on what is going on inside of us, on those parts of us only God can really see and judge, our hearts. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)
In today’s world, an logical connection to make is linking purity to the idea of avoiding sexual sin. And while that it is part of it, it is actually a rather small part of what purity is really all about. To be pure of heart is to have a heart which has nothing to do with any falsehood, a heart whose full and total allegiance is to God, and a heart which aligns with the truth of God, always seeking to magnify the worth of God.
A pure heart practices faith not for any personal gain or good feelings, but because of who God is. A pure heart loves God because God is lovely and praises God because God is worthy. That’s it. That’s the only reason. Not because they desire forgiveness or salvation. Not because they want to find favor in God’s eyes or receive a particular blessing. Not because they think it will earn them any social capital among friends and neighbors or because they feel obligated to by expectations or traditions. A pure heart has faith in God simply, and only, because God is God.
An example of a pure heart found in scripture would be the heart of Job. Job is a man who God himself describes as “blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8) Satan challenges God saying that of course Job is happy to worship God because he is greatly blessed. Job has it all. A big family with multiple sons, large and healthy flocks of sheep, herds of camels, oxen, and donkeys, and a large staff of servants. Job 1:3 says he was the “greatest man among all the people of the East.” Job, Satan contends, has no reason to consider anything but being faithful because of how generously God has blessed him.
You likely know how the story goes. In short order, Job losses everything. His children, his livestock, his servants, and even his health. His friends and his wife assume, according to the teachings of the religious leaders at the time, that Job has sinned greatly and therefore brought all this calamity upon himself. They assume God is punishing Job. Even Job assumes he is being punished for some sin he cannot recall committing. But despite this, Job does not sin against God. He wonders why this is happening to him, but always acknowledges that God is in control and therefore must have his reasons for allowing such pain and suffering to befall him.
A decent portion of the book of Job is a dialog between Job and several of his friends. His friends keep saying Job has either sinned and deserves to be punished until his confesses and seeks forgiveness (but remember, even God has said Job is blameless at the start of this) or that Job’s faith in God is pointless because God is punishing him for no good reason. Perhaps my favorite response Job gives to his friends is Job 21:34: “How can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!” Job knowns his friends, and his wife, are wrong and that God still deserves to be praised and worshipped despite what has happened to him even if he doesn’t understand why he is suffering to such a great extent.
The story does have a happy ending. God speaks, Job’s friends are put in their places, and Job finds himself richly blessed once again. Job comes out of an unimaginable trial with his faith in tact and God blesses the later part of Job’s life even more richly than the earlier part. Job never knows the exact circumstances of his trials and troubles, God never tells him of the conversation he had with Satan, but it doesn’t matter because Job continues to insist that God can do whatever he wants because God is God. In the end, Job affirms this as he says to God:
“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. 3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. (Job 42:2-3)
The story of Job leaves us with a question to ask ourselves. Why do we worship God? Is it because he has blessed us, or promises to bless us? Or is it because God is God and worthy of praise and worship by his very nature? Job’s heart was found to be pure because, even when all the blessings he knew were taken away, he still acknowledged God as God.
This beatitude of purity in heart comes with a rather amazing promise. A promise that the pure in heart shall see God. To see God means to be admitted into his presence, to find ourselves awestruck by his glory, and to be comforted by God’s grace. It is an eternal promise as God dwells in eternity. It is a truly amazing promise.
- To be pure in heart isn’t something which happens by accident. It takes work and conscious, daily effort. How can you begin to be sure your life is in line with God’s will?
- Take a moment to consider the many things God has blessed you with in life. Would you still be willing to worship God if a few of them were suddenly gone? Half of them? All of them? At what point to you think you would find yourself questioning God’s motives? Do you have friends who would continue to point you to God for answers, or would they be more likely to encourage you to turn your back on God in hard times?
- The song below is really a simple prayer asking God to make our hearts pure. Take a moment to listen and reflect on where you need God to create a clean heart in your life as well as give thanks for those parts of your life where he has done great work already.