“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (NIV).
Why is a pure heart such a big deal to God?
I was listening to the most fascinating conversation this morning taking place on the radio between a secular talk show host and a rabbi. The rabbi stated that we shouldn’t judge people based on their beliefs but instead on their actions. He gave the example of two different neighbors. On the one side of you lives a guy who believes you’re the best thing since sliced bread. Despite his belief about you, he poisons your cat, yells at your kids, and shoots out the tires on your car because it’s parked in front of his house. On the other side of you is a guy who really can’t stand you and makes sure you know it. He won’t speak or wave and is just plain rude for no reason. But your kids are alone at night, and there’s trouble in the neighborhood so he goes over to check on them to ensure they are safe until you get home. The rabbi asked the host if he had to choose between the two, whom would he rather live next to? The radio host emphatically chose the guy who couldn’t stand him because his actions were good thereby, proving the rabbi’s statement: we can’t judge one another based on their beliefs but on what they do.
This philosophy, though completely understandable in a culture desperate to rid itself of mass shootings and suicide bombings, doesn’t hold water in the Kingdom of God. Good works and belief in truth are not mutually exclusive.
“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34b, NIV).
“Above all else, guard your heart for it is the well-spring of life” (Prov. 4:23, NIV).
When it comes to good works I think of some friends of my husband and mine. This couple holds to the belief that good works will get you to heaven. We have often said that if that were true, they would get there long before we would because they are such good people in every way. No question
Here’s what God says about our good works:
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Is. 64:6a, NIV).
I once heard a pastor say that when Scripture talks about our good deeds being like filthy rags that it was likening these rags to that which a woman used back in the Old Testament during her menstrual cycle. Not a pretty picture.
Every once in awhile when I am studying the Bible I will go to the original Greek or Hebrew and see if I can get down to the bare bones of what Scripture is saying. It often times lends deeper meaning to the passage or verse making it come alive. In this particular verse it doesn’t seem necessary because the verse is so straightforward. Upon studying it, however, I found the following quotes absolutely fascinating.
Kardia-heart; “’the affective center of our being’ and the capacity of moral preference” (see P. Hughs, 2 Cor, 354, Helps Word-studies);
“’desire-producer that makes us tick’” (G. Archer), “i.e. our ‘desire-decisions’ that establish who we really are” (Helps Word-studies).
The capacity of moral preference. We see this everyday in our culture. That which takes resident in the soul of a person meets the rest of the world head-on by one single decision.
What does this have to do with raising a world-changer? It’s hard to do the right thing in a situation that practically begs for bad behavior. For instance, if my kid hasn’t studied for a test and then becomes tempted to cheat off of his neighbor but doesn’t, does it matter why he didn’t? What drives him to refrain from giving into that temptation? An intellectual belief that cheating is wrong may work a couple of times, but not every time. After awhile if a few other kids are doing it and getting away with it, he’s probably going to cave and just go for it. Why? Because his actions are based on a heart attitude. He needs to be driven by a heart that belongs to God. So no matter how unprepared he is for his test, he wouldn’t dream of disobeying God in this way.
An intellectual belief isn’t enough to change behavior. The demons know and believe that God exist, and it hasn’t changed their behavior!
Back to my question of why a pure heart is so important. Because it is the essence of who we are, and from it flows everything we do. If our hearts aren’t right with God, pure in motive, our good deeds are completely worthless. In an effort to know where my kids’ hearts are I’ve started asking them questions like why it’s important to treat others with respect, why we shouldn’t steal, why do they believe church is important, etc. The conversations have been enlightening to say the least.
How about you? Do you know where your kids stand on the important issues? Do you know why they believe what they believe?