Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: What Jesus means when he calls the pure in heart blessed.

November 9, 2008

Matthew 5:3-8

Pure in Heart

3Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

4Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

5Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

6Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

7Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

8Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Two young adults were involved in a fender bender and at first they were angry with one another and accused the other of being at fault, but finally, calmer heads prevailed and they decided to call the police and let them settle the matter.

As they waited for the police to arrive they continued to talk to one another and discovered they had a lot in common, and the chemistry began to flow between the two.

Finally the young woman said, “You know, maybe it was God’s will that we had this accident and we get to meet one another.”

And the young man, who was really attracted to the young woman said, “you’re absolutely right!”

The young woman said, “Its silly for us to stand out here in the cold. Let’s get inside your car and sit where it will be a little warmer.” And the young man readily agreed.

As they sat talking in the car the young woman said, “You know, I just happened to be at the store and I bought a bottle of wine and I have some paper cups. How about if I get it and we have a toast to this chance meeting.” The young man thought that was a good idea.

They made their toast, he gulped down his wine and she sipped her wine. She offered him some more, which he took. Then he noticed she really was not sipping her wine, in fact, she was not drinking it at all. So, he asked her, “Aren’t you going to drink your wine?”

She said, “No, I’ll just wait for the police to arrive before I have my drink.”

I wonder how pure her heart was? What are you motives for what you say and do?

This morning we are looking at the 6th of the Beatitudes of Jesus.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

What does it mean to have a pure heart? What does it even mean to be pure?

Think about the advertisement for Ivory Soap. What does it mean that something is only 99 44/100% pure? What does that mean for the other 56/100%? Does it matter? Does it really make you want to buy Ivory soap? Probably not.

Then there is water. We want to drink clean water, we all do. But would you drink this water? No way!! We wouldn’t come close to that, but we would trade it for a nice glass of cold water. Water that seems pure!

We wouldn’t eat soup which is fly infested or even has a fly in it, would we. It’s not pure, it’s not clean. We would send it back and we would ask for a good, hot bowl of pure, clean soup.

So, when Jesus talks about a pure heart, what exactly is a pure heart? The Greek word for pure implies being clean, unpolluted, and that what is pure was not always pure, but has been purified, cleansed, and washed out. A “catharsis” (from the Greek word for pure) is an emotional resolution; it is also defined by Oxford as a “purgation, especially evacuation of the bowels.” The pure heart would be a heart that has been emptied of what is unclean, purged of what no longer belongs.

19th century theologian, Soren Kierkegaard wrote a famous book called, “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.” Our problem is that we let ourselves get stressed out because we try to do so many things in so many different directions. We try to be and do everything, when we were made for just one thing, for the one thing that really and ultimately matters: God. If purity of heart is “to will one thing,” then focus is everything. The pure, like a racehorse, need “blinders” to block out their peripheral vision, so they keep their eyes on the one goal, straight ahead, the finish line.

If purity of heart is to will one thing, that one thing can’t be just any old thing. We may will the penthouse office in the corporate tower, or we may will the glamour of being cool or good-looking. We may will whatever it is we think we want, and that often leads to a swift plunge away from God. That’s because we scale the heights for what is impressive, or when we settle back for what is easy, instead of doing what Paul tells us in Philippians 4, ‘pressing for whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, those are the things we should be doing.’

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