We equate our hearts with love. However, where do “will” and “intent” originate? The head? Do we feel in one location and think in another?
To understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 5:8, we first must understand the Old Testament view of the heart. If not, then Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the pure in heart; for they will see God,” is only of interest to those with romantic leanings.
In the Old Testament, the heart is the inner source for the choices we make, for our will, for those moments of intent that spring from us, whether planned or spontaneous. It is the location of our innermost desires, which may very well be romantic, but which are more often not.
The heart is what reflects what we truly are inside. In Genesis we read that it is constantly selfish, causing grief to God. In one place in Matthew, Jesus says it defiles people with evil thoughts, impure desires, and the like.
The next time we look in a mirror, we need to look closely and see if we can find our heart. Oh, we will not find it in the slant of our forehead, or the cast of our eyes. It will not be in the cut of our chin, or the layering of our haircut. No, we will have to look deeper to find our heart.
Instead, imagine the driver of the car that cut us off on the way home from work. How did he see our response? Picture the woman in front of us the last time we checked out at the grocery store. When she spent more time in conversation with the clerk than in moving her bags to her cart, how deep was our frown? When our co-worker infringed on our rights, and we were left to cover what he left undone, how did we greet him the following morning?
We have Jesus’ example to model our hearts on. He was kind to the downtrodden, patient to the helpless, and generous to those in need. The only time he felt anger was when his father’s house was being treated with disdain, and he championed respect for God.
When we are born again, our spiritual hearts are transformed. So are our will and our intent. The decisions we make are different, and we begin to show those things that please God. Love; mercy; desire for righteousness and justice.
If we please God, then we will see God when we look in our mirror, for we will reflect him. We will still see our forehead, our eyes, and our chin. However, we will know that others have seen God in our actions, for they have seen the results of our pure heart.
If we have a pure heart, our thoughts and intentions are unblemished by sin. Our will is pleasing to God, and at the end of time, he will welcome us into his everlasting arms.
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