Summary: Purity of heart is doing the right things with the write motives.
Living Large-With a Pure Heart
Beatitudes Series: Part 6
Rev. Gary A. Shockley
October 14, 2001
Did you ever reach into the fridge, grab hold of the carton and take a big gulp of sour milk? You can’t get it out of your mouth fast enough—can you? Not pure! Ever get behind some big old diesel truck while it’s spewing nauseous fumes? You can’t get out of its way fast enough—can you? Not pure!
What is pure? (pictures on the screen of Snow White, Ivory Snow, Dean Wells-staff member) Let’s see…
Purity in the biblical sense means “clean, not contaminated, unmixed.”
In today’s Bible verse Jesus says, “God blesses those whose hearts are pure—for they will see God.” In the Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible, it says, “You are blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart---put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” Notice that the emphasis here is on what’s inside us—in the heart.
In Bible times people thought of the heart as the very center of a person. What you thought, how you felt, your motivations, impulses and passions all flowed out of your heart—from the very core of your being. If you want to know what a person is truly like, on the inside, look at the kinds of things that flow out of their hearts.
Here’s an interesting thought… when God looks at you he pays little or no attention at all on your outward appearance. I’m sorry about that-- because I know a lot of you work hard on what you look like “out here”. Some of us, like me, have to work extremely hard on our outward appearance. I like what Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?”
God doesn’t care what’s on the outside of you because He’s too busy looking to see what’s on the inside of you. What’s going on in your heart.
Jesus got worked up over some of the people of his day because they spent an awful lot of time on their outsides: looking good: wearing the right clothes, having long prayer beads dangling down to their knees. Their hair all fixed up nice. All washed up. Teeth nice and white. They loved to stand in the prominent places in the community and pray out loud. It was a nice show—but that’s all it was!
Jesus saw through all the pretty and the pretense to what was in their hearts and he said, using the words of Isaiah, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Bt the way, Jesus was talking about “church folks”.
Jesus said on another occasion that these folks were like white-washed tombs. All pretty, clean and white on the outside but on the inside they were rotting corpses.
They carefully kept all the law--including the meticulous washing of their hands-- before anything went into their mouths. But what came out of their mouths was slander, hatred, vulgarity, and abuse toward those who weren’t so clean, or religious, or “like them”. Jesus said, “Evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you.” (Matthew 15:19,20) What chaffed Jesus more than anything was their dishonesty—with themselves and with God!
Let me give you some stuff to latch on to:
1. According to Jesus “purity of heart” isn’t believing the right things. It isn’t going through the right motions. It’s doing the right things with the right motives. With the right heart. Think about it…
a. If we praise God with our lips and lift our hands in worship on Sunday morning and act as though we’ve never met Him on Monday—then we’re like the hypocrites Jesus confronted and our praise is in vain.
b. If we act all spiritual in here, in front of each other, but are devious and dishonest when no one is looking out there—then we’re hypocrites and our spiritual actions are in vain,
c. If we teach honesty and integrity to our children, and then rip off the cable company because they somehow forgot to turn off the service when we cancelled it—then we’re hypocrites and our teaching is in vain,
d. If we caution our youth about sexual impurity and we sit online in front of a porno site—then we’re hypocrites and we are ourselves impure.
e. If we say we love God, and yet celebrate the destruction of another nation through an act of war—then we’re hypocrites and we do not know the God we say we love. (Just as an aside here—because I don’t want to be misunderstood. I believe our government is acting responsibly in it’s attacks on the Taliban military and terrorism. But to celebrate any loss of life in this war or feel good about what’s happening right now does not reflect purity of heart—and we ought to seek forgiveness from God.)