Summary: Transformation can take place when we are singularly motivated to please God in all we think, say and do.
Title: The Transformation Choice
Text: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8
Thesis: Transformation can take place when we are singularly motivated to please God in all we think, say and do.
Lenten Series: Life’s Healing Choices (Saddleback Resources)
According to USA Today, firms are spending billions of dollars to fire up workers—with little results. The article states:
There has been exhaustive academic research trying to find out what motivates workers, and it has turned up almost no evidence that motivational spending makes any difference.
Poll-taker Gallup analyzed its massive database and determined in March that 55 percent of employees have no enthusiasm for their work—Gallup uses the term "not engaged"—based on several criteria, including loyalty and the desire to improve job performance. One in five (19 percent) are so uninterested or negative about their jobs that they poison the workplace to the point that companies might be better off if they called in sick.
Further into the article, Spencer Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese? states he "believes research may one day show that the only long-lasting motivation will come from employees who bring it to work in the form of God, spirituality, or something else that causes them to 'rise to a higher purpose.'" (USA Today, 5-10-01)
Our text today is really about how it is we may bring to every aspect of our lives, a higher purpose… the purpose of being transformed into the persons God wants us to be and to live out that transformation to the honor and glory of God.
Transformation begins with the heart.
I. The Transformation of the Heart
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 52:10
The first meaning of the term “pure” simply refers to being clean.
This week I was talking to Rick Mylander who told me about his experience at a “foot-washing” service. (It was reminiscent of the occasion when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet and then instructed them, “If I, your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, then you should to wash each other’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” John 13:14ff)
Rick said it was really quite a lovely experience. And then he went on to describe it as more of a ceremony than an actual foot scrubbing. He said he was asked to place his feet in a basin and then the washer simply dipped water from the basin and poured it over his feet. Then she dried his feet with a towel. It was a ceremonial washing.
I think I would have had some serious reservations about having someone do a deep cleaning on my feet. The bible may describe the feet of those who carry the Good News to others as beautiful… but surely that is figurative speech. There is little lovely about toe-jam, calluses and gnarly nails.
What Jesus spoke of purity of heart, he was not speaking of a ceremonial cleaning. It was one of those sudsy, soapy, scrubby cleanings of which Jesus spoke. Purity of heart speaks of a deep cleansing from all that is unholy in our lives. It is a “create in me a pure heart” kind of cleansing.
When Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his time he said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.” Matthew 23:25 Jesus wants the inside of the cup to be as clean as the outside of the cup. Jesus wants us to be as clean on the inside as we appear to be on the outside.
Looking good is fairly easy. Deep cleaning is a bit more dicey. But once we’ve done the interior work, then begins the work of transformation from dirty heart to clean heart in which we chose a new pattern of thinking and doing.
We begin to practice Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think on such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
The pure in heart are transformed into people who have a renewed and steadfast heart.
A second understanding of purity of heart is to think in terms of loyalty or devotion.
II. The Transformation of Loyalty
Jesus said to them, “Anyone would come after me must deny himself daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a person to gain the whole world, and yet forfeit his very self [his soul]?” Luke 9:23-25