The Beatitudes: Blessed Are The Pure In Heart
Matthew 5:8 - Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Who are the ‘pure in heart’?
Well, there’s room for debate here. At first, you might imagine that the pure in heart are those people whose interior lives are spotless. There is nothing in them that is sinful or wrong. But, I don’t know many people like that. I’m pretty sure you don’t either.
One interesting perspective is that the pure in heart are the perfectionists, the fussy ones. The ones for whom nothing is ever good enough. “Their food is never cooked right; their clothes and hair are always unsatisfactory; they can tell you what is wrong with everything.”* (I know a few people like that). Perhaps the point of this beatitude is that the Kingdom of God is open, even to those sort of people! And the good news is that in Jesus, they’ll see the thing they’ve been longing for all along, perfection.
For me though, when I think of the ‘pure in heart’ I think of children. As I write, I can hear my toddler downstairs playing with his mother. He’s probably doing something simple like hiding behind the curtains or building a tower of Lego bricks. Nevertheless, he’s excited, giggly and full of joy. I can hear his delight in whatever he is doing. And it’s infectious; it’s making me smile even now.
I believe it is the innocence of children, their pure-heartedness, which gives them the enviable power to see the beauty, and love, and glory of God in just about anything. Occasionally, one meets an adult who has retained or rediscovered this incredible ability. Artists often have that ability, to see more than meets the eye, and then reveal it to us. I’m not sure how they do it, but I’d love to know.
One thing I’m sure of though if I want to see God more in the everyday things; if I want to delight in His beauty, love and glory as revealed through the world around me; it couldn’t hurt to become more like a child. But that’s not surprising, is it? After all, the Kingdom of God does belong to them.
*See Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy.
By now, if you’ve settled well into a church near your university, you might consider volunteering occasionally on their Sunday School rota. Not only will you be helping with a critical and life changing service, but you’ll have the opportunity to spend time with, and learn from, some of the world’s greatest experts on pure-hearted living.
Towards the end of term, it’s easy for life to be reduced to a list of important to-dos. But making space for joy and beauty is vital for living well. You’ll each have your own passion or hobby through which you can see God and enjoy his presence, be it art, music, poetry, flower arranging, surfing, dancing… Whatever it is for you, make some time for it.
God, I know that the world is filled with your presence, but sometimes it’s hard to find you in the humdrum of ordinary life. Help me to see you, and enjoy you, in the same way children enjoy even the simplest of things. Make my heart pure, just like your Son is pure, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Written by Gareth Banton, an Ordinand at Ridley Hall, Cambridge. You can sign up to get devotionals sent to your inbox weekly here.