Day 8: “Purity of Heart” Part One 08.10.18
Matthew 5:8 (NIV) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
The opening story on the Fox News website this morning, August 10, 2018, is about a deceased Air force Sergeant named John Chapman. Its title is “Braveheart.” Sgt. Chapman joined with a group of Navy Seals in 2002 in a firefight against terrorists in Afghanistan. Having been wounded multiple times, Chapman nonetheless overcame several enemy soldiers to rescue a comrade. His conspicuous bravery could not be denied. Indeed, calling him brave of heart seems perfectly appropriate.
Hundreds of articles can be found daily that mention the heart. We all know the many expressions. Someone “stole my heart.” “My heart was broken.” Or “My heart burst with pride!” In Shakespeare’s Othello, it was the character Lago who admitted he was vulnerable to others. He said: “I wear my heart upon my sleeve.” A Bible translator wrote about the importance of putting the Word of God in a person’s own language because “Our first language is the language of the heart.”
The ESV version of the Bible uses the word “heart” an interesting 777 times. In the Old Testament, the word is usually the Hebrew “leb.” A simple word with many shades of meaning. Desire, will, passion, self. The place “where we live.” A very private place deep inside. Right in the center of our being. Our physical hearts reside in the middle of our bodies. Our spiritual hearts reside in the middle of our souls.
Interesting that God has a heart. And that man can hurt God’s heart. We read in in Genesis:
Genesis 6:5-6 (NIV) 5 The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. 6 The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain.
We have probably never considered that we image bearers of God can make Him sad and weary. God is an emotional being. Yes, the Westminster Confession says He is “without emotions” but that means that God is not ever irrational or capricious…given to flying off the handle or blowing up. But God is definitely an emotional being with very real feelings. God has a “heart” in the sense that we are exploring. He can be hurt. By us.
When Israel repeatedly turned to idolatry, God expressed his pain through the Prophet Jeremiah.
We read: Jeremiah 3:19-20 (NIV) 19 “I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD.
“I thought you would call me father…” We can hear the pain in God’s heart. It’s safe to say that God’s ancient people hurt His heart more than they blessed it. Because their hearts were impure, their actions were impure. The Lord Jesus Christ said:
Matthew 5:8 (NIV) “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
The word used for “heart” in that simple statement is “katha-ras” from which we get the English word “catharsis.” That is when we speak our minds and hearts and reveal something important even troubling at times. It has a cleansing effect. One might say “I had an honest conversation with my friend and it was really cathartic for me.” The idea is that catharsis is cleansing for the soul. We “get it out in the open.” This is why confession of sin is cathartic. Anyway…Jesus was talking about hearts that have been cleansed and purified. Back to the Old Testament….
The Scriptures contain many warnings about the heart. Warnings that the man or woman of God needs to take seriously. We read in proverbs:
Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.
This is a very simply word picture. “Protect your heart because whatever you put in it will drive your life…your emotions…your way of doing things and interacting with others including God.” The New Living Translation puts it this way:
Proverbs 4:23 (NLT2) Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
In fact, it is best to see the heart as a repository filled with the things that we put into it. That is a scary thought in such a debased and vulgar culture. As we live in a world where God is mocked and all things Holy are regarded as nonsense, our hearts are subjected to a tsunami of evil. The person whose heart is corrupted by sin can’t help but live dominated by that corruption.
The Lord Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for obsessing over what they ate and drank thinking they could avoid defilement. But they did not understand that the godless person defiles himself with his actions and words. And where does that defilement come from? An impure heart!
We read:Luke 6:45 (NIV) “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”
An old preacher said “Wanna’ know what’s goin’ on in your car’s engine? Listen to it! Wanna’ know what’s goin’ on in your heart? Listen to your words!” To be continued.
Peace. Pastor Alberta