Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Pure in Heart Will See God

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


There once was a Pharisee named Simon, who was quite sure that if God had a list of favorites, he would be near the top. As a member of the Jewish elite, he prided himself on keeping the Ten Commandments and wore robes to set himself apart from the common rabble of humanity. And as a Jew, like generations before him, Simon was waiting for God to send the promised Savior.

There once was a woman who was just as certain. However, she was certain to be on no one's list. She knew she was worthy of nothing but contempt from the men and women she encountered. She was a woman who had kept neither God's nor man's rules, and had no hope of ever being accepted.

Then there was Jesus in the middle of it all. Confusing and bewildering, He was breaking man's laws to follow God's, and showering love on those who believed they deserved it least.

These three individuals are the key players in a story found in Luke 7, verses 36-50. Simon had invited Jesus to dinner, then showed Him no common courtesy. Jesus' feet weren't washed, His cheeks weren't kissed and His head wasn't anointed with oil. Everyone in attendance would have noticed these breaches in polite behavior. The air must have been thick with tension. It was as if Simon had slapped Jesus in the face.

As the dinner progressed, a woman crossed the courtyard. She knelt beside Jesus, tears coursed down her checks, landing in splashes on Jesus' feet. She took her unbound hair and gently wiped the muddy spots from Jesus' feet. She then anointed them with perfume. Jesus' feet were dirty, cracked and calloused. But they were beautiful to her.

Scripture doesn't tell us how this woman knew about Jesus. But it is clear she knew enough to act with an extravagance that speaks of great love and gratitude.

Simon must have been disgusted with this display of emotion. Simon the judge, whose heart was bound by pride, judges the woman and Jesus. There was no love in Simon's heart.

It's at this time that Jesus reads Simon's thoughts. Simon said to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of a woman she is -- that she is a sinner."

Jesus then goes on to acknowledge Simon's thoughts, and teach a lesson about forgiveness and love.

What strikes me about this story isn't the parable that Jesus teaches, which is important enough to address on its own. But it is the fact that Simon had been waiting all his life to see the Messiah. Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise to all of Simon's ancestors. And yet, when the Messiah -- God incarnate - walked into Simon's home, Simon didn't recognize Him.

In Matthew 5, Jesus taught what we now call "The Beatitudes." In verse 8, Jesus speaks these words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." The truth of these words was demonstrated in the story of Simon.

Simon made sure the outside of his life looked really good. But he neglected the condition of his heart. Simon didn't see his need for forgiveness, or his need for a savior. The woman in the story had just the opposite condition. The outside of her life was a wreck before she met Jesus, but she knew her desperate need for salvation. Her heart was stripped of pride and was overflowing with love. Now consider, which one saw God?

A pure heart ...the ability to see God ... is it possible for me? Only with God's help and a willingness to be brutally honest about the sin that's been hiding in my heart. I know I would rather have the heart of that woman and see God act in my life, than be bound by pride and miss Him.

Dear Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to those who humbly seek You. Help me to uncover any ignored or overlooked sin in my heart. I long to stand before You with a pure heart, and I know I need Your help. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

The Confident Woman: Knowing Who You are in Christ by Anabel Gillham

P31 Woman Magazine

Visit Glynnis' Blog

Application Steps:

Pray Psalm 139:23-24. Ask God to reveal any sin lurking in your heart. Commit to asking God's forgiveness for this sin, and His help in dealing with it.


What risk does this woman face in coming to Simon's house and bowing at Jesus' feet?

What are some sins that are easy to keep hidden in our hearts?

What risks and benefits do we face when we are honest about the sin we can keep hidden in our hearts?

Power Verses:

Luke 7:47, "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven--for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (NIV)

Psalm 139:23-24, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (NIV)

Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." (NIV)

What's Left?

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him." Nahum 1:7 (NIV)


Times are tough. People everywhere are losing their jobs, their homes, and their hope. If it has happened to you, then you know how devastating loss can be. You know what it feels like to be at the mercy of a job interviewer, or enslaved to a credit lender. It can leave us feeling less than.

Most of us seek identity in our jobs, dreams, talents, or peers. The people we love, the things we own, and the job we do often defines who we are. When we lose those things, we feel as though we have lost our identity. After that, what else is left?

The good news is--there is more left than we realize. This was true for Daniel after King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. The king ordered for some royal family Israelites to be taken into captivity. The order specified those who were attractive, smart, healthy, and who would make good servants to the king. Daniel was among them. They were also told what to eat and what to drink.

I imagine most the captives were distraught by all they had lost. They had been taken from their home, their land, and their people. But Daniel and his friends responded differently than most. They chose not to look at what they had lost but rather what they still had left.

Daniel had faith. He knew that the true King was large and in charge. Nebuchadnezzar may have been king of Babylon , but God was the King of Daniel.

Trusting God to work on his behalf, Daniel asked that he not have to defile himself by eating the king's food. Despite the official's hesitation, he granted Daniel's request due to God's favor.

As children of God, we do not have to lose heart or succumb to the world's ways either. No matter what kind of situation we are placed in, God can make the impossible possible. The Lord also gave knowledge and understanding to Daniel along with his three friends. This caught the king's attention. No one else in the kingdom could compare to these four. So, they entered the king's service without violating their faith and remained there until a new king took the throne.

Unfortunately, everyone experiences times of loss--a job, a friendship, a dream. Even so, our worth and identity are not found in these things. Nor is it found in our failures or losses. Your value and mine is in God and the amount of faith we have in Him.

When we find ourselves in our own Babylons, let's not look at what we've lost but at what we have left--our faith! It may be shaken but it can't be taken. Faith, like Daniel's, provides hope in a God who is large and in charge over every authority. That, my friend, is no loss. That is great gain.

Dear Lord, My focus has been on my circumstances instead of on You. Today, I chose to put my trust in You. I believe that You are aware of my situation and are working on my behalf. Fill my soul with peace and help me to rest in Your care. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:

Do You Know Him?

Visit Micca Campbell's blog

Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow by Janet Eckles

Application Steps:

Read about Daniel's story and exercising your faith in trying times at Micca's blog.

Instead of focusing on your loss, make a list of all you still have left.


Where do you get your worth from?

How can faith in God see you through hard times?

Power Verses:

Psalm 138:7, "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You save me." (NIV)

1 Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you." (NIV)

Belief or Unbelief

Romans 4:3
..."Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

Each morning we awake and go about our day based on one of two beliefs: Either we believe in God and our every action is motivated by this central value, or we do not really believe and our actions reflect so.

You can be a believer yet act as though there is no God. Whenever you fret over life circumstances, you immediately demonstrate unbelief. Whenever you move out of fear or anxiety, you believe a lie about God's nature.

Each day your actions affirm or convict you of your belief system. It reveals who the central focus of your life really is-you or God. It reveals who you place your ultimate trust in-you or God. It is one of the great paradoxes for believers. One day we can believe Him to move mountains. The next day we can question His very existence.

  • Peter believed God and walked on water.
  • A sick woman touched the hem of His garment and was healed.
  • A Canaanite woman believed and freed her daughter from demon-possession.

In what circumstances do you act as an "unbeliever"? Ask God to increase your level of trust so that your actions match up with one who believes every day.