Today’s reading link: Genesis 9–10; Matthew 9; Ezra 9; Acts 9
Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” A pure heart is one that is fully devoted to God; no hypocrisy; a condition in which outward actions reflect the true condition of the heart.
Always devoted? Never an impure thought or selfish motive? We could never get here on our own. But God gave us a guide, and a lot of grace, to help us. God’s commandments aren’t simply a list of rules to make our lives more difficult, but a guide to help us purify our hearts and move toward full devotion to him. This theme runs throughout today’s reading.
In Matthew 9, Jesus saw the thoughts of the scribes and affirmed his authority through a miracle:
When he saw the faith of the people who had brought him and the faith of the paralytic, Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. The scribes/teachers who were looking on said nothing, but Jesus looked at their hearts and saw their accusations of blasphemy. He responded by also healing the paralytic’s physical disability.
In Ezra 9, Ezra mourned because the Children of Israel disobeyed God’s command to remain pure by refraining from intermarriage:
God commanded the Children of Israel to keep themselves separated from the people of the lands with their abominations. They were not to give their daughters to them in marriage, nor take non-Israelite daughters for their sons, and never seek the others’ peace or prosperity. All these things would lead them away from full devotion to God.
In Acts 9, Ananias sought after a Saul, a known murderer of Jesus followers:
Saul’s heart, “…still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”, sounds pretty pure. Purely in opposition to Jesus. We read the story of his conversion, and know he goes on to purify his heart and become a great man of God. But the pure heart that rings through in Acts 9 is of Ananias. When God commanded Ananias to go to Saul, Ananias gently reminded God of Saul’s reputation. God affirmed his command, but he did not play to Ananias’ selfish desires (like I would have) to convince Ananias to go. My line would have sounded something like, “Ananias, I realize the risk is great here, but so is the reward. This guy will go on to write almost have of the New Testament. You’re going to make history. This story will be recorded in the best-selling book ever written. Billions of copies!” See, God didn’t have to play to Ananias’ selfishness because had a pure heart, he simply followed God’s command.
In Genesis, God punished Ham’s impure actions:
Ham commits an impure act against his father Noah. God doesn’t punish Ham directly, but punishes Ham by making his son a servant to his brothers. As a mother, seeing my kids pay for my sin is way more painful than suffering my own consequences. Heart-wrenching is the word that comes to mind.
Samuel 16:7 says, “…for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” What does God see when he looks at your heart today?