“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).
Pure? What is that?
Most things we recognize as pure are rare and almost impossible to find. Generally, we understand 100 percent as that which is real, authentic and pure. In our food, we read the label that says 100 percent, but there is usually at least one additive to help preserve the product. We recognize terms like “all natural,” “no preservatives,” “no MSG,” “no artificial colors or flavors,” “sugar-free,” “sodium-free” and “gluten-free.” In our fabrics, it is rare to see 100 percent cotton, linen or wool because it is usually blended with spandex, polyester or some other blend to make the fabric feel softer or easier to press with an iron. So how can we explain to our culture what pure in heart really means? How do we test it, and how do we preserve it so that we may see God?
It seems to me that Psalm 24:4 gives us a good foundation for answering these questions: “The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.”
So we can conclude that a pure heart means not allowing anything to have more priority than God. When we decide to be intentional about letting go of anything that has a higher priority than our relationship with God, we relieve ourselves of worry, frustration and disappointment, and we add freedom, peace, refreshment and joy to our lives.
To test our pure heart status, we may want to examine things in our lives that might be idols for us. Consider how much freedom, peace, refreshment and joy we experience and compare it to how much time we spend worrying, being frustrated and being disappointed. I believe many of us have a hard time letting go of our “idols” even when letting go is in our best interest. There is a big market for people who have trouble letting go. (There’s even a popular business website called letgo.comfor this very reason.) Many of us hold on to things too long or hold on because we have memory attached to the items. These things might also have sentimental value. Even if letting go is too scary, we should ask ourselves if these things are potential idols. Are food attachments, money, status, cars or unhealthy relationships possibilities to consider? We often forget that letting go of suspected idols actually brings us peace and freedom. Letting go and letting God purify our heart and mind will put us in a position to see God at work in everyday situations as well as after our spirit leaves our physical body.
I have learned over the years that water is purified through the process of boiling. It is an intensive, delicate and time-consuming process, but it produces very thorough results. God is the only One who can boil away the impurities of the dark past or previous mistakes and boil away the impurities of our sins. When we trust God to boil it all away, God can purify the impurities of our hearts and minds and prepare our hearts and minds for true worship. When we are intentional and honest about worship, then we can be free to respond to God’s presence.
Unlike food, water or clothes, purity is not something that can be bought or sold. It can’t be handed down or even wished for. It has only one ingredient, which is to be consumed by one desire —the desire to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives (Psalm 27:4).
It means to live worry-free, guilt-free and shame-free. It is tested by being 100 percent devoted, 100 percent dedicated, 100 percent devout. We preserve it in faith with the reality that there is no other Deliverer, no other Way Maker, no other Miracle Worker, no other Everlasting Father, no other Savior, no other Prince of Peace, no other Friend like the lowly Jesus (fmchr.ch/lowlyhymn).
My prayer is that the Lord would create in us a clean heart, renew the right spirit in us, and restore the joy of our salvation (Psalm 51:10–12). I also pray that He would reveal the truth about ourselves, give us courage to let go of potential idols, teach us to test our pure heart status, and show us our wrongs and help us to make them right. Let us really get it right with preserved hearts so we may be more intentional and honest in our worship, and, in doing so, we will see God.
Lisa M. Fiddermon is the lead pastor of Bethel Free Methodist Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, and the host of “Lunch With the Word” on Facebook Live (fb.com/RevDrLisa). She earned her Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity degrees from Wesley Theological Seminary.1