y dad fought cancer for 11 years before the Lord finally took him home to heaven. Toward the end of his time on earth, he was undergoing one of his hospital stays. A couple of minister-friends of ours went to visit dad. He was a big talker, and he enjoyed interacting with them that day. Upon leaving, one of the ministers remarked to the other, “You know, I believe that man is the purest in his heart of anyone I have ever met.”
Quite a testimony, isn’t it? Having lived with him for years, I would concur.
One translation of “Blessed are the pure in heart” (Matt. 5:8) reads, “Happy are the utterly sincere” (Phillips). The same sentiment is expressed by the psalmist: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. . . . He shall receive blessing from the Lord” (24:3-5 NKJV).
Enormous crowds were following Jesus. The standard of living was poor, and it would have been very tempting for the disciples to view following Jesus as a means of gaining prestige and wealth. In this atmosphere, Jesus pulled the disciples aside to share with them the true nature of His calling. The Beatitudes may have been directed to the disciples while the crowds listened in. Their lot would not be fame and fortune, but humility, mourning, and hunger.
In that context, the sixth beatitude becomes especially poignant. Christ’s summons for followers who are “pure
in heart” is a plea to enlist those with unmixed motives. Though this certainly applies to all Christ-followers, it seems especially appropriate for those involved in ministry. This purity of heart entails the most exacting self-examination. perhaps we need to examine our motives in our service to God more than in any other area. It is so easy to cover selfish ambition under the cloak of ministry.
One man said that there are three temptations to ministry: the temptation to shine, to whine, and to recline. It is not pleasant to admit, but I have to ask myself,
Is my real desire to be a man of God, or is it to be known as a man of God? How pure is my desire for the growth of my church? Am I content to live in obscurity as long as I am in the center of God’s will? Am I at peace with the fact that so much of real ministry hap- pens one life at a time?
Such questions are wrestled with by those who desire to be “pure in heart.”
In Life Sketch and Sermons of F.J. Lee, we get a picture of one of the fathers of the modern pentecostal Movement: “He would spend nights in prayer for the success of the church. He was a man of a very quiet, steady disposition. He talked but little, and was always quiet and gentle in his home.”
This was the witness of Mrs. Lee. Another described him as “widely known for his piety and gentleness of spirit.” I am not sure many people today even know what pious means. It refers to an intense devotion and respect for God and the things of God. It was originally applied a few centuries ago as a derisive term toward the movement to revive personal piety in the Lutheran Church. In today’s world, it would be equally mocked. But it fits well with Christ’s idea of the “pure in heart.”
And there is a reward attached to it: “they shall see God.” The pure in heart will recognize God in places that other people don’t see Him. pure hearts see the Lord in the simplicity of a life lived for divine honor, even though it may never garner accolades here. They see Him in every soul that is nudged a little closer toward heaven. They see Him in the move of God that may look different in style from yesterday’s revival, but is the same in substance. They don’t miss Him in their own day. They catch glimpses of His face in the drug addict who is desperately reaching out for a different kind of life. The pure in heart see God in their children, their awesome responsibility.
Most of all, the pure in heart will one day behold all the fullness of God’s glory when faith shall end in sight. It is what they are longing for all their lives. They are possessed by no ulterior motives. Heaven for them is not primarily streets of gold and gates of pearl—it is found in the Lover of their souls. The “pure in heart” are promised a special intimacy with God both in this life and in the one to come.