Jesus says “pure in heart,” which is referring to internal purity, once again showing His concern with our heart’s position. Jesus doesn’t waste time speaking to our external lives because He knows that our hearts must first be changed.
The Beatitudes, or blessings, Jesus teaches in His longest and most famous sermon, the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, all have one underlying theme in common: God is most concerned with our hearts and what we truly desire for our lives.
Unlike other religions, Christianity introduces a God that not only loves us unconditionally, but that also wants to know us, spend time with us and offer grace and love that we will never deserve. We know this is true because of the countless times throughout the Bible that Jesus calls us to draw near to Him. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus wants us to genuinely seek Him in times of joy and trials and trust Him with our lives. Of all the beatitudes, this theme shines through the most clearly in the sixth beatitude, found in Matthew 5:8, which says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
When we are presented with the concept of purity, often our minds are led straight to abstinence, sobriety or having a clean, sinless life. Though these things do accurately define purity, they are external purities. Jesus says “pure in heart,” which is referring to internal purity, once again showing His concern with our heart’s position.
Jesus doesn’t waste time speaking to our external lives because He knows that our hearts must first be changed. When we experience this heart shift, our behaviors, actions and external lives will also change as a result of it. Jesus wants our hearts to genuinely desire things that are pleasing to Him – then, our lives will reflect and produce things that are pleasing to Him.
When we receive Jesus in our hearts and make the commitment to follow Him, He begins a transformation in our hearts. Our love for Him will translate into a hunger to know Him and a thirst to live like Him. This is a pure heart: a heart that desires nothing more than to be with God because that truly is all our life should be about!
Within this beatitude, Jesus also promises that those who embody this pure heart will see God. Only those with a pure heart will know Jesus because that is what Jesus sees. He doesn’t fall for the words that we say or the act that we put on for people in our lives. God knows our heart and our desires and that’s what He is most interested in.
The truth is that even after we accept Jesus into our lives, we will still fail. But thankfully God continues to forgive us! He honors our heart’s desires, and if our heart truly desires Him and His will for our lives, even through our failures, then we are blessed and we will see God.
The heart is what you are, in the secrecy of your thought and feeling, when nobody knows but God. And what you are at the invisible root matters as much to God as what your are at the visible branch. “Man looks on the outward appearance, but The Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). From the heart are all the issues of life.
What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart . . . For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a man” (Matthew 15:18–19).
“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit . . . For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:33–34).
So the heart is utterly crucial to Jesus. What we are in the deep, private recesses of our lives is what he cares about most. Jesus did not come into the world simply because we have some bad habits that need to be broken. He came into the world because we have such dirty hearts that need to be purified.
“Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.” – Psalm 24:3-4
And we pray:
Here are five prayers you can pray (and verses you can memorize!) as you seek to grow in purity of heart this week:
- Search me; Lead me: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23-24
- Draw me close; Cleanse me: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” – James 4:8
- Help me to guard my heart: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.” – Psalm 119:9; “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”– Proverbs 4:23
- Help me to delight in truth; Teach me wisdom: “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.” – Psalm 51:6
- Help me to love like You: “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from a pure heart.” – 1 Peter 1:22