Summary: Sixth of the Eight Milestones on the Journey of the Fruitful Followers.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8
Our spiritual tree has grown many branches now and is mature enough to bear fruit. Purity of heart is a condition that will determine how we are going to bear fruit. Are we going to bear no fruit, small and few, or large and many? As the fruit bearing time comes near, we enter the stage of purification in order to bear much fruit.
When it comes to purity of heart, most people falls into two categories. Those with low self-esteem would say, “I don’t have a pure heart. I am full of sin. This blessing doesn’t belong to me.” Those with arrogance would say, “I always keep a pure heart.” Most of time, they are speaking from a religious moral standard.
One important concept that we need to be reminded at this stage is that Jesus came to restore the relationship not to establish a religion. We live in a religious and idolatrous world that always seems to pull us to thinking religiously and idolatrously. Religions focus on rules and rituals, but the true Christianity is about relationship—relationship between God and us and relationship between fellow human beings.
With that understanding as the foundation, we will be able to understand purity of heart as a relational condition, rather than a moral condition. No human being has ever passed the moral test of any kind. Abraham wasn’t declared righteous by God for his moral perfection because he wasn’t morally perfect. Jacob was a crook to any human ethical standard of any culture. King David was an adulterer and murderer. All of them were declared righteous by God because of their “relationship” with God. The Bible says, “There is no one who is righteous, not even one.” (Romans 3:10)
Purity of heart has two dimensions—single-mindedness and inner moral purity. A pure heart is a single-minded heart with unreserved love for Jesus Christ. A double-minded or multi-minded heart will hinder fruit bearing. James warned, “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)
A single-minded heart also provides a condition for moral purity. When our heart is unequivocally focused on the kingdom of God—that is a fruitful life—we automatically want to chip away and cast out the impurities to achieve the maximum impact.
Another biblical word for purity of heart is holy. Paul said “Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Again, don’t be threatened by the word ‘holy.’ In true Christianity, it is a relational word. “Holy” means “to be set apart.” It is the same concept as to be pure in heart, to be single-minded toward God, and to stay away from the unclean spirit.
God blesses the pure in heart and their reward is the opportunity to see God. What a deal!
In the scripture that we read today, it tells us how God purifies our hearts. Let us look at a few key messages from this passage.
How do we keep a pure heart?
1. Abide in the Love of Christ
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”
Jesus said he cleanse us with the word he spoke to us (John 15:3). His word is not the word of rules and regulations. This verse summarizes his word, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” (John 15:9). In fact, we can summarize everything he said on earth in three words, “I love you!” Have you heard that?
Every human problem has its root in not heeding these words. We can’t love others because we don’t love ourselves. We don’t love ourselves because we have not really heard or internalize Jesus’ word, “I love you!” The second part of the Great Commandment is very fair, “love your neighbor as yourselves” because we can’t love others more than we love ourselves.
We can’t give away what we don’t have. I love the title of a book I saw in the bookstores, “Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt.” That is what some Christians are like. They try to love others because Jesus asked them to, but they are affectionately naked! There is nothing to give because they have never received.
Love is a reflection of the love that comes from God because God is love. It is like the sunshine that comes from the sun above us and the reflections of the atmosphere and matters keep everything in the world bright, except those places where there is no direct or indirect sunlight. Human beings are not fireflies, we don’t produce light. In the same way we don’t produce love. I have heard that if a baby is left alone with enough food and nutrition except the loving touch of an adult, the baby would die.