The Christian Life and Character (Day 23) Christians are to be pure in heart: ‘‘Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’’

‘‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.’’ Matt. 5:8

Additional reading: 2Cor. 11:2 – 3; Php. 1:10; 1Tim. 5:22; 2Tim. 2:22

Today is day 23 of our study on the Christian Life and Character. Today’s theme is not strange to anyone, but one thing we may not be so sure of is what it means to be pure in heart. Jesus never said what He did not mean. He always said what He meant and meant whatever He said. Again, He was never careless with words. Therefore, His words, ‘‘Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God,’’ were not careless words, so are worth studying.

So He said: ‘‘Blessed are the pure [katharos … clean (literally or figuratively):- clean, clear, pure] in heart [kardia … i.e. (figuratively) the thoughts or feelings (mind); also (by analogy) the middle: – heart, broken hearted]: for they shall see God.’’ To be pure in heart simply means to have clean thoughts or feelings. This implies that our thoughts or feelings towards one another, which include those of the opposite sex, must be clean at all times. This also implies that our thoughts towards all physical things (possessions) must be clean too. Except our thoughts are clean, we will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Read this: ‘‘Happy are the clean in heart: for they will see God.’’ (BBE.) ‘‘You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your mind and heart — put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.’’ (MSG.) The fact is; cleanliness — of thoughts and feelings— of the heart or mind is a critical factor in the daily conduct of a Christian.

Jesus’ encounter with some Scribes and Pharasees in Matthew 15 gives a better insight into this subject. According to Scriptures, these Scribes and Pharasees queried Jesus for allowing His disciples to eat without washing their hands, which was against the law. In His response, Jesus made it clear to them that the word of God was to be upheld above the vain traditions of man. After this encounter, He called the crowd aside, then, said: ‘‘The food that you put into your mouth doesn’t make you unclean and unfit to worship God. The bad words that come out of your mouth are what make you unclean.’’ (CEV.)

This is most instructive; Jesus said that the food that we put into our mouth doesn’t make us unclean, rather it is those careless (bad words) that come out from our mouth that make us unclean! How possible is this?

Peter in a bid to get a better understanding of the words of Jesus asked Him to explain to them what He meant. Read this: ‘‘Don’t you know that the food you put into your mouth goes into your stomach and then out of your body? But the words that come out of your mouth come from your heart. And they are what make you unfit to worship God. Out of your heart come evil thoughts, murder, unfaithfulness in marriage, vulgar deeds, stealing, telling lies, and insulting others. These are what make you unclean. Eating without washing your hands will not make you unfit to worship God.’’ (Vv 17 – 20 CEV.)

He said that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach, and then comes out again. So, this does not defile — make one unclean. But what makes one unclean are those things that come out from the heart. I had earlier said that the heart — the mind — is the place of your thoughts and feelings. So whatever comes out from the mouth is first conceived in the heart. Before any action takes place it is first developed or conceived as a thought. We meditate about our thoughts and feelings before carrying them out as actions. This is exactly what defiles. In view of this, Jesus said, ‘‘You’re blessed when you get your inside world — your mind and heart — put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.’’ Except our inside world — mind — is clean, our outside world will never be right before God. But the moment we get our inside world — thoughts and feelings — clean and clear before God, our outside world will be clear and clean and then we will see God.

Eve fell to the temptation of the evil one for the simple reason that her inside world — thoughts and feelings were not focused on God and His word. She thought more on satisfying the desires of the flesh and for this, she and her husband lost their place in Eden.

Against this backdrop, Jesus warned: ‘‘For your heart will always be where your riches are. The eyes are like a lamp for the body. If your eyes are sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eyes are not good, your body will be in darkness. So if the light in your body is darkness, how terribly dark it will be! You cannot be a slave of two masters; you will hate one and love the other; you will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.’’ (Matt. 6: 21 – 24 GNB.)

Simply put, we must be focused on God. Our attention — thoughts and feelings should be directed at godly things at all times. When our eye — focus or attention is God ward, our whole body will be full of light. But with many eyes — divided attention; our body will be full of darkness. And this is when wrong and evil thoughts and motives fill our minds.

Again, the wise one said: ‘‘Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.’’ (Prov. 4:23) The Hebrew word, ‘keep’ as used here means to protect or to maintain. It, therefore, behoves on us all to protect or maintain our hearts with utmost care against all evil. This is necessary because what we’ll become depends greatly on what comes out from our hearts. ‘‘Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.’’ (GNB.)

Meditation: So my thoughts shape my life!

Prayer: Teach me to guard my thoughts; that in everywhere I may please you.

Question: (1) What defiles a man? (2) How can you protect yourself from evil thoughts?

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