Sitting on the Mountainside- Studies in The Sermon on the Mount

Day 9: “Purity of Heart” Part Two 08.13.18

Matthew 5:8 (NIV) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Years ago, the Ivory Soap Company advertised their facial bars as “99 and 44 one hundred per cent pure! So pure, it floats!” Supposedly, the executives at Proctor & Gamble were inspired by Psalm Forty-Five:

Psalm 45:8 (NIV) All your robes are fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia; from palaces adorned with ivory the music of the strings makes you glad.

I have no idea about the veracity of this whole story. But it is interesting that they could not claim 100% purity. Actually, nothing is perfectly pure except the One who is totally and completely Holy. Who took on flesh to be among us. Yet, purity is a low priority these days.

Consider cable news. Jesus would never be invited to be a newscaster on any of those channels. Those guys are all handsome, sometimes strikingly so. And when did we last see a woman on any of the shows who was not a long-legged beauty with a perfect face and smile? The heavy and the homely need not apply. Why? Because our culture is obsessed with outward beauty.

Does anyone really think that a political party would send out a young woman elected to Congress whose ideas are so hopelessly naïve if she was not pretty and engaging and giggly and catchy to look at? Have we seen any unbecoming young women with plain faces addressing us about the next election? No way. Beauty wins the day.

I recently watched thoughtfully as I was on my treadmill for 35 minutes. I decided to carefully observe the ads. Literally every one of them was about weight or skin or teeth or hair. I’m all for good grooming but a man from Mars might say “Hmmm…you folks are really obsessed with how you look!” “True, Mr. Martian. You will watch in vain to see an ad about the inner person. We are stuck on the superficial!” The idea that we should rejoice in how God made us and do our best with it is unacceptable. We have procedures to modify every inch of our physical beings. Some people have had it done fifty times.

Consider this: apparently Jesus was not what we would call “good looking.” The Prophet Isaiah described him seven centuries before the incarnation as follows:

Isaiah 53:2 (NIV) He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

When the Christ took on flesh, he was vulnerable and as lonely and incidental as a small flower in the desert. Amazing that he should come into the world that way. He was not handsome or attractive. Anyone walking in the desert of this world would not even notice him except, perhaps, to wonder how such a homely flower came out of the wilderness. But his heart was perfectly pure. 100% pure!

Our Lord said: Matthew 5:8 (NIV) Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

We are back to that word we looked at in part one: “katha-ras.” As we said, it is the root word for “catharsis” meaning to be cleansed. Question: “Is my heart clean? I know what is in it and God knows what is in it. And to others it may look clean but is it really clean? Pure?”

Not really. Maybe it is cleaner than it used to be, but I remain a “clean-up” project before the Holy Spirit. An old booklet years ago was called “My Heart. Christ’s Home.” In it, the writer suggested that in the Christian life we are like old houses that Jesus is cleaning up one room at a time. I like that word picture. So, what can we do to get out of the way of the great cleaner Jesus?

A few thoughts from the Word of God:

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Psalm 19:14 (NIV) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 26:2 (NIV) Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.

Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

We guard our hearts when we are careful about what we put into our minds. When we plead with God to give us clean meditations and words that will not be self-defiling. And above all, we ask God to show us what we need to work on.

Because the heart is the “wellspring” of life, we need a few more thoughts on this verse. To be continued.

Peace. Pastor Alberta

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