“BLESSED ARE THE PURE IN HEART. FOR THEY HALL SEE GOD.” -JESUS (MATTHEW 5:8)
WHEN YOUR HEART IS CLEAN, YOUR EYES WILL BE OPENED.
The Greek word for “hypocrite” is hypokrites. A hypokrites is what the Greeks called a stage actor who would use a face mask in order to impersonate a character in a play. Pretending to be someone else, the actor would assume the role that his mask suggested. Of course, underneath the mask and off the stage, that actor was someone else entirely, different from the role he or she played. Jesus had a lot to say (none of it good) about what He thought about hypocrites.
Christ pronounced a great blessing for the pure in heart. He was declaring that the very opposite of the face-mask-wearing hypocrite, rather, the open and transparent life, would be richly blessed by God Himself. It is against our protective self-defense instincts to let other people see into our lives. We make ourselves vulnerable to the criticism and judgment of others when we open our lives to them. It is amazing the lengths people will go to hide all or parts of their lives from other people. It seems that in the culture of the church we wrestle with this problem as much as, if not more than, the world around us.
Jesus lived a transparent life as an example for us to follow. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. (John 13:3-5)
The Lord Jesus took off His clothes to be covered by only a towel; then He proceeded to use that very towel to wash His disciples’ feet. Jesus was showing them how to relate to one another. His example of vulnerability, humility, and transparency gives us the pattern of how to live our lives in relationship to God and man.
Many years ago, I went through an unbelievably difficult season in my ministry. The worst things that can happen in a church, happened in the church I pastored. I became deeply traumatized by the scope and intensity of these devastating events. I fell into a deep depression and yet tried to continue in ministry, Ministers are taught and trained to unveil little of their personal lives to their churches. There is a culture of secrecy and privacy that dominates much of the ministry. I began to realize, then, that that culture of secrecy was not only not helping me, it was greatly harming my life by preventing my restoration.
I went to my pulpit one Sunday and started what I call “honesty therapy” in my church. No more secrets, no more pretensions. No more masks. My church sat there, stunned by the sudden outpouring of personal integrity from their pastor. It was one of the best things I’ve ever done as a minister and a believer. Honesty therapy began to bring real healing into my life and into the whole church. I noticed that the more transparent I became as a pastor, the more transparent our entire church began to be. We started healing together because of the many benefits of integrity and transparency. To have a pure heart is to have a clean heart.
When we open our lives to God and men, it qualifies us for a great blessing from God. “‘They shall see God” is what Christ said would be the reward for a transparent life. When we hide our lives from each other and from God, we become blinded to the great revelations of God and His kingdom that are reserved for the pure in heart. God allows us to see into Him when we allow Him and others to see into us. The intimacy can be described as “in-to-me-see.” Since Adam and Eve used fig leaves to cover up their nakedness in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been in the “cover-up” game with God and with each other.
When Jesus appeared to His disciples after the resurrection, they were unsure it was Him until He showed them His scars. John 20:20 says: When He had said this [“Peace be with you”] He showed them His bands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
It was the transparency of the person of Christ that allowed the disciples to receive His message. It wasn’t until He revealed His wounds and scars that His disciples could receive His ministry.
Prejudice, racism, and sexism are the beginning of an unending category of social attitudes that are generally disapproved of. There are many more negative behaviors and beliefs that are commonly a part of our world: how we feel about the poor, the uneducated or the un-employed, or the people in distant lands with differently colored skin. We may claim to be free from these and other unpleasant attitude, yet it is in our human nature to easily criticize.c and categorize other people. Whenever we fall into this trap of diminishing others with various labels, we become blinded to seeing them as God does. We miss the possibilities of seeing God working in someone’s life when we have prematurely reached our own conclusions concerning them. Our perceptions and opinions of others are frequently at odds with God’s thoughts for them.
To have a pure heart –what a tremendous gift! To live with a heart unencumbered by contaminating influences is to qualify to see as God sees. This place of purity is where all Christians are called to live. Our Lord promised great rewards for every one who achieves its presence. In the earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus there are many examples of how He overcame the man-made wall of a host of various prejudices in order to share God’s love and healing with others. He saw the value where others saw waste. He saw miracles where others could only see pain. He saw redemption where others only saw the unredeemable. Because He saw people as God does, He was able to successfully accomplish God’s will for their lives. You and I are also invited to experience this same revolution of thought and to see this world as our loving God does.
Look what happened when Jesus encountered a generally despised man with a bad reputation:
He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”When Jesus saw the rich tax collector named Zacchaeus, He discerned what other men were incapable of seeing. The town’s people were convinced they knew all about this man. He was unethical and corrupt. He had built his personal fortune by defrauding others. The people saw what he had done; Jesus saw what he would become. (Luke 19:1-10)
When Jesus offered to come to Zacchaeus’s house, it angered the citizens because they knew Zacchaeus was a sinner. Imagine their shock as Zacchaeus emerged from his brief encounter with Christ an entirely different man. He immediately gave half of all his possessions to the poor and offered a four-fold restoration to those he had defrauded. He became someone no one ever thought he’d be–no one that is, except Jesus. This miracle of redemption occurred because of the purity of heart Jesus possessed that allowed Him to see and think differently than others. How many similar miracles are unrealized because of the blindness of our hearts?
One sunny afternoon Jesus and his disciples were taking a journey. They had traveled far and now were taking a break for food and rest. The disciples were dispatched to procure food as Christ waited by a well for their return. What happened next came as a great surprise to the returning disciples. Jesus had initiated a conversation with a local woman that led to the entire city’s coming to hear and receive His ministry. This particular woman had been married five times and now was living with a man. Jesus broke through the barrier between the sexes to lovingly minister to her. She and the many hundreds or thousands that had come to Him were all Samaritans. The Jews and the Samaritans had little to do with each other for two significant reasons: race and religion. The Jews had a condemning view of the Samaritans and little interaction with them. When the disciples witnessed this unexpected harvest from an unexpected source, their beliefs were strongly confronted and changed.
Jesus gave a revelatory summation about that day’s dramatic results in John 4:35: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest”
When Jesus saw what others could not see, He could then do what others could not do. He did what His disciples couldn’t even imagine doing because of the many judgmental beliefs they held concerning the Samaritans. The “Samaritans” of our lives are the individuals or groups of people that we have judged and labeled. As we cleanse our heart of all the interfering, ungodly attitudes, we too can see great blessings come into both their and our lives. Opportunity is lost when our vision is blurred but is seized when our hearts are pure and we can see what God can do.
This same vital principal works concerning our relationship with God Himself. When our hearts are cleansed from negative thought and belief (such as doubt, fear, mistrust, anger, unbelief, etc.), we can then live in the dynamic arena of faith. God is looking for hearts like that in all the world. “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him. In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.” (2 Chronicles 16:9) The emphasis of this promise is the watchfulness and desire of God to find those that He can partner with on earth. The Lord is looking for someone whose simple trust and faith will allow His will and power to be released in the world.
The other end of the spectrum of human behavior is the power of unbelief and doubt. Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief. (Matthew 13:58) What Jesus wanted to do–God’s best–was denied because of the limitations people put on Him. Our hearts can help release the expression of God’s will or, counterwise, we can cause it to be forfeited. That God would entrust such a great responsibility to us is truly incredible! When we realize this opportunity and cooperate with God in faith, awesome things happen.
Jesus said to him, “If you can believe. all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23) The pure heart believes God without hesitation or reservation as Hebrews 11:6 declares: But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
One of the battlefields for purity is overcoming religious teaching that “waters down” the promises of God. Mark 7:13 reads: “… making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
Be careful what you really believe. Don’t allow any denomination, book, preacher, or anyone else to plant the seeds of doubt through unscriptural traditions. It’s important to regularly inventory what we do truly believe, making sure our faith is in God’s Word, not anyone else’s. When Jesus burst on the scene in public ministry, the religious hierarchy of the day stumbled over their preconceived expectations that weren’t satisfied in Christ. Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Therefore many from the crowd, when they heard this saying, said, “Truly this is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?” So there was a division among the people because of Him. (John 7:40-43) Also, John 1:46: And Nathaniel said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth…?”
Even though the ministry of Christ was unprecedentedly supernatural, releasing God’s grace and power to a hurting world, many religious leaders rejected Him because He did not fit their expectations. If God brings His kingdom into your life through a vessel that you may have difficulty with, will you pass the test? Can you hear and see God’s will in spite of the particular messenger He uses? When our hearts are pure, we can hear God and see God in the most unusual people and places.
Prayer for Transparency
Father God, create in me a clean and pure heart, I pray. Search me and know me and help me to live in integrity with You and with other people. I open my heart to You and pray that You will help me to open it to other people also. I confess my sin and weakness and refuse to hide anything from You. Thank You for helping me to live a transparent life. In Jesus name, Amen.