Devotional Thoughts: Blessed are the pure at heart

Blessed are the pure in heart, because they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

In my opinion, the beatitudes here in Matthew are Jesus’ declaration that “the good life” is available to the people who are not typically seen residents in such an honorable estate. His idea, that those who suffer or are lightly esteemed can be blessed, is rooted in the Old Testament. It can also be found in Plato and the stoics (“Better to suffer injustice, than to commit injustice.”). The difference is that Matthew is making the claim that only through Jesus and his ministry the good life with God is definitively available, or rather through Jesus and his teaching can it be actualized with certainty. For Matthew seems to see several Old Testament figures as blessed in similar ways.

Now, the message of the four gospels is not merely the happy parts of Matthew 5:3-10. Indeed, there is more to being pure at heart than simply being good for a while and then seeing God and enjoying the good-life. Jesus, who would qualify as pure in heart in an exemplary fashion, certainly sees God. But his single-mindedness led him directly to the cross, where Matthew says that Jesus cried:

My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? (Matthew 27:46)”

Now, I do not think that God the Father literally “turned his face away” from Jesus or anything like that.

But what I do want to point out is that becoming pure at heart and “seeing God” is often accompanied by the worst trials, the most profound temptations to sin, and the most unexpected assaults from evil (personified or not). The gospels are literary wholes, so we must take their promises for pleasure and ecstatic experience of God along with their expectations of pain and exposure to the evils of the god of this age. Indeed, Jesus says that our daily prayers should include, “rescue us from the evil one.” But there comes a time, perhaps not for all Christians, when the answer to that prayer is “My grace is sufficient for you.”

In this respect the good life, with all of its proportions of appreciation for God and his gifts must find its main satisfaction in God himself and his promises that remain unanswered and we have to learn that the eternal weight of glory far outweighs any momentary wasting away of the flesh, dimming of our vision of God, or feelings of abandonment in the face of the periodic crescendos of evil in our world.

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2 Comments

  1. John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

    Our purpose is so wholly dependent on finding our joy in Christ, our pleasure, our comfort, our definition, our understanding, our purpose…

    Those words, “In me…” to the above scripture, is poignant.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • Thanks for the comment, Shal.

      Finding our peace “in Christ” tells us quite a bit:
      1. Who gives it to us.
      2. What we might have to go through to experience it.
      3. How invincible it is (Jesus was raised from the dead).
      4. How well planned it is (Jesus is the word who with the Father).
      5. How important it is to have.

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