Contained in this post is the second installment in a three-part series from Gerry's book, Finding Freedom: One Man's Journey Into God and the Treasure He Brought Back.
What does it mean to have a pure heart?
It means living our life with a single focus on Jesus. The Greek word used here is katharos which means without hypocrisy or singleness of mind and thought; an undivided mind. David prayed in Psalms 86:1 “Unite my heart to fear Your name.” A pure heart is one that is no longer divided between “me” and God. A heart that is pure is like grain which has been sifted from all chaff or any army which has been purged of malcontents, cowards, or the disobedient. A pure heart is one in which the motives of life have been sorted out and there are no mixed motives.
I think Abraham Lincoln caught that purity in heart when he said, “I desire so to conduct the affairs of this administration that if at the end, when I come to lay down the reins of power, I have lost every other friend on earth, I shall at least have one friend left, and that friend shall be down inside me.”
Napoleon is reported to have commented about France’s revolution, “Vanity made the revolution; liberty was only a pretext.” What are the real motives and pretexts of our life? The secret of the early Church in Acts 2:46 was that they “continued daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and sincere hearts.” These early Christians knew freedom from double-mindedness. James 1:8 says that the double-minded person “is unstable in all his ways.”
We are either all for Jesus, or all for ourselves. There is no in-between. Purity of heart is being committed to Christ.
When a high diver “commits,” it means that he dives off the board into the pool below. He either dives or is anchored to the board. There is no such thing as a partial dive. Commitment is an all-or-nothing proposition. Imagine a would-be diver jumping up and down on the board incessantly. He might think that the act of springing up and down gives him a sense of diving, but we know such behavior would be an illusion. He may feel he is diving, but he is deceiving himself. That’s the way many Christians approach commitment to the Lord. They feel committed because they do certain things like go to a Sunday service, or pray once in a while. But from God’s point of view, they are no more committed than our fantasy diver jumping up and down on the board.
Such a mindset is deceptive and even potentially destructive. Ron Hutchcraft described a visit to Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina:
As the tour boat approached Fort Sumter, I wondered whether the guides would be dressed in blue or in gray. Sumter had been a Union fort in Confederate territory when the Civil War began. It had changed hands several times. We were greeted at the gate by a “soldier” wearing a blue coat and gray pants! This uniform wouldn’t have worked very well back in 1861. It would have gotten its wearer shot on both ends!
It’s not a good idea for a follower of Christ to send double signals to his world either. Compromise increases stress over the long haul. The deception, the half-heartedness tears us apart. When people aren’t sure of our stand, they keep pushing.
Billy Graham and his late wife Ruth have long been a testimony of hearts set purely upon the Lord. Newsweek magazine profiled them—not their historic evangelistic crusades and international impact, but their life as an elderly couple approaching their final chapters on earth. One thing that shone brilliantly through the pages of the article was the incredible quality of their marriage. “At night we have time together,” Billy says. “We pray together and read the Bible together every night. It’s a wonderful period of life for both of us. We’ve never had a love like we do now—we feel each other’s hearts.”
Being pure also means cleansed, without defilement. David prayed in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” Our hearts are to be washed clean of the memories of past failures and sin. The unconfessed and unrepentant mistakes of our lives must be brought to the Cross. The story is told of the deacon who prayed every Saturday night, “Lord, clean up the cobwebs in my life.” Week after week he prayed this as he gathered along with the pastor and other men for prayer. Finally, one night the pastor had enough, and when the deacon started praying this again, he leaped up and said, “Don’t do it, Lord. Just kill that spider.”
One definition of “pure” means “without mixture”—like milk that is undiluted with water, or metal that has no tinge of alloy. Mixture is a combination of more than one element. The Spirit of God plus our carnal nature is a mixture; God’s life plus the ways and ideas of the world is a mixture. Where there is no mixture, God will pour out His Spirit without measure. Purity of heart is concentration of the whole personality upon God as the center of life. Being pure in heart means to be like the Lord Jesus Himself, “who committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:22). Jesus was perfect, spotless and pure. Being pure in heart is having an undivided love which regards God as our highest good, and is concerned only about loving Him. It is keeping the first and great commandment, which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).
Stay tuned for "Part 3: Eyes to See."