“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” – Matthew 5:8
When I think about the Sermon on the Mount, I think about how God is really after our hearts, not actions. For example, Jesus taught us that murder isn’t what God is concerned with, but actually anger. Another example is adultery, because Jesus said in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” See? God is after the heart, way more than the things we do beyond it.
Why? Why is God so concerned with our hearts and not with the sins we do? Simply put, because He knows that if He can purify our hearts, then everything else will fall into place. “For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” – Matthew 12:34(b). God is concerned with what we say, but He knows no one (besides God) can tame the tongue (James 3:8). That is precisely why God isn’t trying to manage our fruit, but our roots. He knows that the roots are what cause a tree to produce healthy fruit.
My neighbor used to have an orange tree. Apparently, when she was a child, one of the kids planted an orange seed in the back yard, and it sprouted into a sapling. Her dad watered it and cared for it, and it continued to grow into a strong tree, producing oranges by the hundreds. But it got struck by lightning one night during a storm. After that, the tree changed. The fruit it produced didn’t change in number, but in quality. At first, only some of the oranges would come up sour. Over the years, the oranges that were produced by the tree became more and more sour, at greater frequencies. Eventually, all the oranges were sour, and even worse, they started growing these strange green vines inside them. It was like the tree was possessed by another plant, and these weird green vines would ruin the fruit. The dad could never bring himself to destroy the tree, so he tried and tried to fix it. My neighbor told me he would pour bags of fertilizer on and around the base of the tree in hopes that it would get stronger, but it never improved. When Kate and I moved into our house, we noticed the sickly tree. It wasn’t very big and produced about 20 oranges at a time. Usually, the oranges looked diseased, with black spots all over them. Eventually, the tree died.
I know it was only a tree, but isn’t it amazing what transformation came from the lightning strike that made a good tree turn bad? And yet, Jesus told us in Matthew 12:33, “Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad…” and he connected that statement to this one, found in the very next verse, “… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.”
God isn’t in the business of managing fruit. He is in the business of making bad trees into good trees. God is a lot better than we tend to think. Colossians 1:22 tells us Jesus has already presented us as “holy, without blemish, and above accusations.” If Jesus has done that, then we must be good trees. Isaiah 61:4 says, “They will be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor.” How beautiful is that? I find it incredibly reassuring. I don’t always feel like a righteous oak tree, and I don’t believe I’m the only person that feels that way, but these scriptures help remind me that how I feel doesn’t matter nearly as much as what He says about me.
God is truly about our hearts and is patient with us when we forget this key truth.
In the 6th beatitude, we see a beautiful statement. Before we can really look at the Word again, let me just remind us all that it is God who purifies our hearts and not us. This is key to the message.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
You see, what separates us from other groups- and what makes Christianity not a religion is that it isn’t about behavior. All religions are about how to please God, how to get closer to God (or gods). But Christianity is about how God has gotten close to us. It isn’t about what we do because it is ALL about what He Has Done, the great things He has done. God doesn’t want us to behave. What I mean by that is He didn’t make you and me because He wanted us to behave. He made us in order to know Him and to fellowship with Him. It’s all about relationship with Him.
No other scripture better encapsulates God’s heart for relationship with us than Matthew 5:8. If we allow God to work in our lives, if we allow Him (through the washing of His Word- see Ephesians 5:26) to cleanse our hearts, and if we allow Him to get close enough to truly transform us (see Romans 12:1-2) then we will truly see Him. He pursues us, not the other way around.
Secondly, note that it doesn’t say blessed are the pure in action, but instead says blessed are the pure in heart. God doesn’t judge the actions of men, He judges the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). Also, Jesus didn’t say those that say a prayer to get to Heaven will see God. It is only those that allow God to finish a work. It really requires getting close to God, and nothing else works.
So, take some time today to talk to Him. Give Him permission to move in your life. Allow Him to have control of your thoughts and emotions. Let God lead you. Don’t just think about Him. Read your Word, allow it to change your perspectives on situations in your life. And be filled. Bless you…
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