Scriptural Gem for October 2015

In Psalm 24:3-4 we read: "Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully."

And in Matthew 5:8 we read: "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they will see God." (emphasis added)

Although we may be familiar with these two readings, I wonder whether we truly understand the meaning of the word "pure?" Do we think of it as "holy" or "unblemished?" Perhaps we automatically attach meanings of "cleanness" and "being washed." As we look deeper into the original language, we find that these definitions do not adequately convey the meaning of the word. Both the original Hebrew word "bar" in Psalm 24 and the Greek "katharos" in Matthew 5 seeks to convey the meaning of "pure" in terms of "singleness." When Scripture speaks of purified gold, it means that the substance left after purification is gold and nothing else. Every last molecule of dross contaminating the gold has been removed, leaving gold as a single substance.

The original, everyday meaning of the word bears a similar meaning in English. Think of a garment labelled, "Pure Wool." Does this mean that the garment was manufactured from "clean" wool? No, it means that the garment consists wholly and completely of wool and only wool. Nothing has been added or everything that was not wool has been taken out.

So, how does this relate to our hearts and how only those who are "pure in heart" see God? Over the years I have seen many people who desired to receive the resurrection life of the Living Christ. Some arrive at the point of surrender and the Holy Spirit flows in with satisfying fullness. Others however wrestle endlessly, never seeming to get there. In the end some may even blame God for not "doing His part," but there is one thing that they all have in common: they want God, but they also want to retain the self, keep the ego intact. In doing so, they are doomed to an endless wrestling match and their Christian walk is characterised by emotional highs and crash-and-burn lows. Their hearts are not "pure" in the sense of wanting Him and Him alone above all else.

Father, bring us to that blessed place where we abandon our lives so that we can receive true Life from you. Amen.