Blessed are the Pure in heart
Have you ever done something with mixed motives? Like have you ever helped someone, because you know you will get something in return or maybe you want them to complement you or you want people to see you serving someone. I think we all have done that at some point in our lives. A specific time in my life I can remember was when I was in Jr. High at church camp. Now any of you who have been to church camp you know what its like. Yes, it is a place where we go to learn more about God and get closer to Him, but what does it turn into for many? It turns into a dating show almost. Who likes who, who am I going to date for a week and break up with. Well in Jr. High I was one of those kids. Well on specific year there was a couple girls that had been flirting with me and told me that they liked me through our encouraging notes bag we had made throughout the week. We were really using them for their intended purpose. Well I let this get to my head. I started to do things to impress them. During our bible reading time I would stay longer than everyone else to make sure they saw me reading my bible, I would volunteer for all the prayer times so that they could see my eagerness to pray, I tried to answer all the questions during small group time and get really deep so they thought I really knew my bible. Was I reading my bible? Yes, I was but what were the motives behind it. Was I taking time and praying? Yes, but for the right reasons? Was I talking about the scriptures? Yes, but was it for God’s glory? Honestly, I could not answer any of those questions positively. My motives were mixed. I wasn’t doing those things to truly know more about God or meet, or to work for God. I was doing it to self-display, to show my own prestige, and honestly I was doing it to feel superior to others. It was not a proud moment in my life. Oh and in case you want to I know what happened with the girls and I there was all of this drama that was created and everyone got mad and I actually never went back to church camp as a camper. It was my 8th grade year and I never went back after that.
Imagine if you will for a second with me if I would have spent all the time and energy actually doing those things for the right reasons. Coming from a pure heart. Man to say my relationship with God would have strengthened is an understatement. But instead I and so many others even came to camp for the wrong reasons. We were not looking to grow in Christ. We were looking for relationships to make us feel better about ourselves. Because of that we distracted others who were there for the right reasons.
Maybe you got something like that in your life. Maybe not my specific story, but maybe a time in your life where you were doing some things with mixed motives. You were doing things more for the self-display, for your own prestige, the feeling of superiority. You very know seldom do we do our best actions from unmixed motives. That is just the truth of the matter. But you know doing things like that is like trying to see out of dirty glasses. You can kinda of see what you are doing or what in front of you, but its blurry, dirty, hard to see. Or maybe its like wearing laundry thats dirty. Sure it may look clean, but if you get close enough you can see the stains or maybe you can even smell it. But of course Jesus talks about this in the scriptures. In the next beatitude that we are going to go over in this series. Matthew 5:8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Before we dive into this and talk about what Jesus is saying here we have to realize something about this verse. What Jesus is asking here is going to require us to have a lot of self examination. Like serious self examination. This is one of the most demanding beatitudes. Listen to examine ourselves can be daunting and sometimes it can bring us shame. But it really is necessary and we will see here as to why. The Greek word for pure means several things but each one paints an interesting picture for us. The Greek word is Katharos. Which means to make soiled clothes clean, cleansing of the chaff from the corn, an army purged of unfit soldiers, milk or wine that us unadulterated with water, or metal which has no tinge of alloy. It means unmixed, unadulterated or not diluted, unalloyed or pure. There is a lot packed into the word here. What is Jesus saying? He is saying Blessed are those who are unmixed in their motives, unadulterated in their actions, pure with intentions and thoughts. That is a lot to ask right? I mean come one even our best actions come from mixed motives at times. We will volunteer our time to serve, but in our mind we are searching for self approval from others. We go out of our way to help someone, because we find pleasure in the praise and thanks we receive. We want others to see us as heroic as selfless. But that in and of itself is what? Selfish. So is what we are doing really pure at heart. Or is it coming from a mixed heart.
Lets look at an example from scripture. You see there was these two people who were following God. They were followers of Christ after His death and Resurrection. During this time many Christians would sell what they have; possessions, land etc… and they would take the money and they would give it to the church to which they would distribute that money to those who needed it. That is an awesome thing to be doing. I mean that is a powerful ministry. But there was these two people who had some mixed motives behind what they were doing. We find their story in Acts 5:1-10 “Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” Peter said to her How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.
What Ananias and Sapphira were doing was not bad at the start. I mean they were selling their land and they were going to give it to the church. That was a good thing. But what did they do that made it something of evil. They made it about themselves. Instead of giving the money in order to glorify God or to bring honor to Him and help others in need they did it to self glorify. They wanted to have this big selfless display and have others praise them. They wanted people to look at them and say “Wow they gave all of the money. They are amazing.” Listen they were not required by any means to give a penny of that money. They decided to do that. They also decided to lie about it in order to lift themselves up above everyone else. Perfect example of people doing things from a mixed heart. An unpure heart. What they were doing was great, but how they did and their motives were not. Look at their punishment. I don’t think ours will be that severe, but you see how seriously God takes these things. How seriously He takes a pure heart. I would say extremely seriously.
Just think if Ananias and Sapphira would have examined themselves first. If they would have looked at their motives behind their actions. Could imagine the lives they could have touched. Could you imagine the impact they could have had. Could you imagine how it would have effected their own lives. Their glasses were dirty. They were blinded by their own selfish motives. From their perspective in their glasses they were doing a good thing, but when the glasses got cleaned they soon found quite the opposite. That is what Jesus is talking about when He says for they will see God. How are you going to see God if your vision is blurry with impurity. How are you going to see what God wants when you are obstructing your own vision. How are we going to see God when our own selfish motives keep smudging up our glasses. It is just like what Jesus describes in the last days when He says that there will be some that call His name and say didnt we prophesy in your name didn we do all of these miracles in your name, and Jesus will reply I don’t know you. Why? They never really did it for Jesus. They did it for themselves. They wanted the glory they wanted the honor. That is what Ananias and Sapphira did. They wanted people to point at them and say “look how great they are” not to point at God and say that.
To be honest this beatitude is one we would rather skip right. It’s hard to look at what is really behind what were doing and I think sometimes we really don’t want to know because if we dig we wont like what we find. I think at times we also don’t even realize what were doing. We think that we are doing all the things for the right reasons, but if we took time and did some self examination we find that maybe there are things we are really not doing for the right reasons. We don’t have a pure heart or pure intentions. Is our work done of selfless service or are they motives of self display, is our work for Christ done to glorify God or is it for our own prestige, when we come to church is it because we truly want to meet God or are we just fulfilling a habitual checklist and make sure people see us, when we read the scriptures are we truly wanting to know more about God or do we just want to have a feeling of superiority? Those are hard questions and we may not like the answer to some of those questions, but they are things we have to ask ourselves.
Listen Jesus says that only the pure in heart will see God. It is one of the simple facts of life that we see only what we are able to see; and that is true not only in the physical sense; it is also true in every other possible sense. If we go out on a night of stars, our untrained eyes see only a host of pinpoints of light in the sky; we see what we are ﬁt to see. But in that same sky the astronomer will call the stars and the planets by their names, and will move among them as among friends; and from that same sky the navigator could ﬁnd the means to bring a ship across the trackless seas to the desired haven. The ordinary person can walk along a country road and see by the hedgerows nothing but a tangle of weeds and wild ﬂowers and grasses. The trained botanist would see this and that, and call it by name and know its use, and might even see something of inﬁnite value and rarity through having eyes to see. Put two people into a room ﬁlled with ancient pictures. A person with no knowledge and no skill could not tell an old master from a worthless daub, whereas a trained art critic might well discern a picture of immense value in a collection which someone else might dismiss as junk. In every sphere of life, we see what we are able to see. So, says Jesus, it is only the pure in heart who shall see God. It is a warning thing to remember that, as by God’s grace we keep our hearts clean, or as by human lust we soil them, we are either ﬁtting or unﬁtting ourselves some day to see God. (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, Third Ed., The New Daily Study Bible (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press, 2001), 123–124.)
Are our hearts clean? Are we self examining? It’s a scary and daunting task because we may not like what we find, but listen how are we going to change if we don’t look inward. How are we going to make the change that is necessary unless we know that there is change necessary. Listen we may not like what we find, but God is there to show forgiveness, mercy, and grace. It is time for us to look inside and see if our hearts are pure. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.