Our culture is obsessed with image. We love to judge people on outside appearances. As long as people act and look good and keep their private life covered up, we’re not bothered too much. We’re pretty shallow when you think about it, and this attitude pervades every aspect of society. Image is everything.
Not so with God. He is not fussed at all about the outward appearance, it’s the inside He cares about – the heart. The heart is the secret place, unseen, where our thoughts and attitudes are. It’s relatively easy to con people with outward appearances, but the inside is a different matter.
You could say that the heart is the most important place to be pure, because that is what God sees
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
So what does it mean to be pure in heart?
It’s not about being perfect or being sinless, but a progression from the other beatitudes. It comes from a desire to know God, to be sorry for our sin and to be hungering and thirsting for His righteousness. Being pure in heart doesn’t come from ourselves, but is a gracious gift from God. When we commit ourselves to following Him, the process of becoming pure involves Him turning our heart of stone into a soft heart of flesh.
Another word for purity and one we are probably more familiar with is ‘integrity’. Being a person of integrity means we are exactly the same with everybody, we aren’t one way with one type of person and another way with somebody else. We are sincere, not hypocritical, transparent, constant. We are exactly the same way if people are watching us or not.
There are a number of blessings given in the bible for people who walk in integrity;
They stay on track, they are the sort of people that others follow, they are good to be around
People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed. (Proverbs 10:9) (NLT)
The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin. (Proverbs 11:3) (message)
They are people who leave a lasting legacy
A righteous person lives on the basis of his integrity. Blessed are his children after he is gone. (Proverbs 20:7) (God’s word)
Their faithfulness and consistency mean they will receive a rich reward;
The master answered, ‘You did well. You are a good and loyal servant. Because you were loyal with small things, I will let you care for much greater things. Come and share my joy with me.’ (Matthew 25:21) (New century version)
Notice it says “share my joy with me” that is the fantastic promise of this beatitude of purity and integrity, we get to see God. That is on two levels; firstly it is for now. God loves it when we act purely before Him and He can’t help but bless us and reveal more of Himself to us as we do so. Secondly this sort of life means we get to spend eternity with Him. What an amazing thought that one day we will actually be able to see God, to stand before Him having had our sins forgiven and knowing we are accepted as His children. What a day that will be!
I’m going to finish this blog with some suggestions (including bible verses) on how we can live a life of purity and integrity;
(1) By keeping our promises
People who promise things they never give are like clouds and wind that bring no rain. (Proverbs 25:14) (TEV)
(2) By having financial integrity
The wicked man borrows and never pays back (Psalm 37:21) (TEV)
the authorities are working for God . . . Pay what you owe them; pay your personal and property taxes (Romans 13:6-7) (TEV)
An aspect of this is giving to God. Tithing is an Old Testament form of giving, but of course under the New Covenant we want to be even more generous than just 10%. The bottom line is ‘Do I trust God with my finances’?
“Is it right for a person to cheat God? Of course not! Yet you are robbing me, says the Lord. How?’ you ask. By withholding your full tithe and offerings . . . Bring to me the full amount of your tithe to my House . . . Put me to the test and you’ll see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out so much blessing on you that you won’t have enough room to receive it all! (Malachi 3:8-10) (TEV)
(3) By refusing to gossip
“A gossip can’t be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won’t violate a confidence.” (Proverbs 11:13) (message)
The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool. (Proverbs 10:18) (TEV)
(4) By doing your best at work
Slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism. (Proverbs 18:9) (message)
Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord. Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:22-23) (NLT)
(5) By being real with others
We reject all shameful deeds and underhanded methods. We don’t try to trick anyone or distort the word of God. We tell the truth before God, and all who are honest know this. (2 Corinthians 4:2) (NLT)
(6) By reading and meditating on God’s word
How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. (Psalm 119:9) (NIV)
As with all these beatitudes, don’t forget that we can only do them with the strength that God gives us. They would be impossible to achieve through will power alone. That is the reason God sent us His Holy Spirit to help us. Why not ask Him to help you start right now?