Weekly Devotional 062722

The Challenge of the Heart

By Maria Oliveira

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” –Matthew 5:8 (ESV)
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” –Psalm 51:10 (ESV)

Raised in a Catholic church, I was not familiar with the idea of a “life verse.” I did not know that the scripture I had read, experienced, and hidden in my heart for years could one day become my very own “life verse.” As a child, I would gather with my family each week, and together we would read the Bible. Psalm 51:10 was one of those verses that has stuck with me for decades. I knew, even at a young age, that if I wanted to follow Jesus fully, I was going to need a clean heart.

As pastor and author John Piper has said, it was “not enough to clean up my act on the outside.” It was crucial that my heart be pure and clean as well. I was going to need God to help me with creating the clean heart within me and renewing a right spirit. Psalm 51:10 became my goal in life. Every night, my 8-year-old self would sit with my mom before bed to take account of my day. We would determine whether I had acted with a clean heart or a very “yucky” one. I will admit, this review of my day did not always prevent me from getting off-track (and more times than I would like to acknowledge). However, it did keep me encouraged on the days when my heart was clean and accepting of God’s grace for the days when I fell short. Since those early days of my life, I have spent a lot of time learning as much as I could about Psalm 51:10 and Matthew 5:8, with the intention of living them out daily. Even though creating a pure heart became not only my goal but the definition of the kind of Christian I wanted to be, I noticed that it was also a daily struggle. Daily life was driving me far away from the source of the deeper connection I wanted to have with Jesus.

We say the heart is what makes us who we are. It is the source of our most secret thoughts, feelings, and emotions—often the ones that only God knows. While I know the heart is what matters most to God, I also know that my actions, choices, and behaviors matter to God as well. They directly affect the path of my life. But even when the actions and choices I make are right and good, if the inside is unclean, that means all of me is still unclean. I know God, who gave His only Son to die for me, expects more from me than a half-hearted commitment. He wants to transform the brokenness within me and lead me to fulfill the purpose He has for me.

Purity of the heart has the power to touch places inside and transform all that surrounds it. Nowadays, it seems that everyone is trying to find their own way, forgetting that we are called to live in communities, build safe places, and lift each other up. We can only live out this purpose if our hearts are centered in Him and Him alone.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” –Matthew 5:8 (ESV)
The primary motivation for all we do is so that we shall see God. To achieve success in this we must be pure in heart. So my question is this, what does it mean to be pure in heart?

John Piper says this:
A pure heart is a heart that has nothing to do with falsehood and is free from deceitfulness. Deceit is what you do when you will two things, not one thing. You will to do one thing and you will that people think you are doing another. You will to feel one thing and you will that people think you are feeling another. That is impurity of heart. Purity of heart is to will one thing, namely, to “seek the face of the Lord.”

So, how can we live out this concept? “With men it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26). In other words, God creates a purity for us and in us so that we can pursue purity. And by His grace we must seek that gift by praying with David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10). And we must look to Christ “who gave Himself for us…to purify for Himself a people.” (Titus 2:14).

God is the one who purifies the heart, and the instrument with which He cleans it is faith. Therefore, trust in the Lord with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5). (John Piper, 1986—

Are we willing to partner with Him and seek a pure heart? I believe that if we do, we will all live the promise: “…and you will see God.” By honoring His kingdom, we will build a community that knows how to better love one another and connect with Jesus.

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