If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
Now that we’ve discussed the first five Beatitudes, it’s time to look at number six. If we’ve allowed God to develop the first five in our hearts and souls, we’re ready for Him to begin the process of developing this one in us as well.
The sixth Beatitude is recorded in Matthew 5:8, and the New American Standard Bible renders it as: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Some translations use the word “will” instead of “shall,” but I think that loses some of the punch.
All of the Beatitudes list conditions needed in our hearts, minds and souls and then results we will experience from allowing those conditions to govern us. “Will” makes this a rather blase statement, but “shall” is imperative. It conveys the sense that this is something which cannot be prevented from happening if the condition is met.
It’s of great interest and significance that Jesus uses the word “heart” here. This is His overriding subject throughout the Gospels. He doesn’t talk much about the outer man or man’s actions—his sins. Rather, He talks about the inner man—his sin nature. The heart is the center of man’s being, and that is what concerns Jesus.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, sees the Beatitudes as a trip up a mountain, over the crest and down the other side. He sees the first three as leading up the mountainside and the fourth as the watershed. Then he sees the next three as closely related to the first three.
He sees the merciful as an expansion of the poor in spirit. In his exegesis, only those who are poor in spirit have a real capacity for mercy.
Applying that same principle to numbers two and five, only those who mourn—who realize they have impure hearts and mourn that fact—will put themselves into a position where God can change their hearts. He can takes those impure hearts and work the character of Jesus into them to purify them.
And what would a pure heart be? I think it would be a heart that does not set itself on the pleasures or riches of this world, but rather one which yearns for things of eternal value.
I’m not sure I know anyone who has a completely pure heart. I certainly can’t claim to. But I do know people whose hearts are purer than they were a year ago or ten years ago. This means that they have allowed God to work His cleansing in them, to move them along the path toward purity.
Although I’m by no means pure, I’m much closer to it than I was before I was born again. I know that I cannot perfect myself, so I try to stay out of God’s way while He does His work of perfecting me.
He promises that when He begins a good work in us He will complete it. Some day—unlikely as it sounds in this world—He will complete that purifying in my heart, and then I will see Him.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you understand this Beatitude? What changes to you see in yourself as God works in you to conform you to the image of His Son?
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Thoughts and Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx