Purity of heart and the distractions that war against us

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

Quick question: what do you think the chances are that you will be able to read this article from the first line to the last line without getting distracted by your phone, your wandering thoughts, or something else?

Still with me?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes this incredible promise: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). The pure in heart might best be described by the title of one of Soren Kierkegaard’s books: “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.” The pure in heart, Biblically speaking, are those whose heart’s preeminent desire is to know and honor God.

One of the biggest obstacles to a pure heart, which seems to be an ever-increasing problem, is distraction. It is hard to will one thing when we are constantly being interrupted by our phones to desire something else entirely. And it is hard to have a pure desire to know and honor God when there are so many other things clamoring for our attention. Our devices have a way of seizing upon our sin nature to tempt us away from a single-minded devotion to God.

We know that Jesus’ promise that the pure in heart will see God is only possible because His death for our sins puts right with God those who put their trust in Him. Now, when God looks at us, He sees us through His Son, as perfect in His sight. And so, the incredible promise is that one day, we will the face of God (Revelation 22:4). Oh, how I long for that day!

But in the meantime, I believe that those who can set aside distraction and the sin that so easily entangles to seek purity of heart, a single-minded desire to know and honor God, will to some extent see God this side of eternity. How so?

1) We will see God in nature – As the angels in Isaiah 6:3 cried out, “the whole earth is full of His glory!” The purer our heart is, the more we will see the glory of God in the flowers, the animals, the wind, the thunder, and the landscape.

2) We will see God in Scripture – Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39-40 that the Old Testament testified about Him, even though His name was never once mentioned. The more our heart’s desire is to know and honor Him, the more the Scriptures will come alive to us, and the more clearly we will see Him there.

3) We will see God in the church and in others – In the beginning, we read that God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). And Paul declares that the church is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). The more we are focused on God, the more we will see Him at work in those around us.

4) We will see God in circumstances – Jacob, after his dream of the stairway to heaven, exclaimed “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was not aware of it” (Genesis 28:16). As we purify our heart, we will see that God is closer and more involved than we ever saw before.

One day, praise God, we will see the face of God, and we will be like Him (I John 3:2-3). With that hope in mind, let us purify our hearts, intentionally setting aside distractions, that we might see Him more clearly every day.

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