May 12, 2015

Pure Hearts

Ruth 1:1–2:23, 1 Timothy 1:1–11, Psalm 73:1–10

What does it mean to have a pure heart? Today’s readings illustrate what both Hebrew and Greek dictionaries define, that a pure heart means to be without guilt.

The OT reading is about a Jewish woman who, with her husband and two sons, went to Moab. They were fleeing a famine that happened in Bethlehem, their home. The sons married Moabite women, the father died, then the sons also died. Naomi was left alone with her two daughters-in-law. She decided to go back home after hearing the famine was over and told the young women to go to their families. One did . . .

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (Ruth 1:16–17)

Songs have been written with the words of her loyalty. Her heart was pure, devoted to be with the mother of her husband. The rest of Ruth’s story reveals the wonder of someone who is without any selfishness. She did whatever the Lord led her to do with grace and a charm that makes the book of Ruth a delight to read.

The NT reading is more like a definition. It is Paul’s words describing the purpose of a Christian life: “The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1 Timothy 1:5)

Essentially, Paul is saying that God wants me to be like Ruth. I’m to keep my conscience clear, trusting Him and having a heart that is devoted to whatever He desires from me, nothing more and nothing less.

The psalmist also knew about a pure heart. He knew that God blesses those that have it, but he also realized how easily it can slip into impurity.

He wrote, “Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” (Psalm 73:1–3) He goes on to describe how God pulled him out of that slippery place.

We are in Fort Lauderdale this week for my graduation commencement. Today we went to a fancy mall with high end stores (and high prices). There was a time when a place like that would bring out covetousness and envy from my heart. Today, when we walked in the doors, I asked the Lord to give me the right attitude and guide me in any purchases that I make.

We were there for two items. Oddly, the other merchandise was not a distraction. I bought the two items and we left without being side-tracked or even tempted. I’m not saying my heart is pure, but I am saying that God is fully able to make it that way, even concerning ordinary temptations like envy for the prosperity of those who have far more ‘money and stuff’ that I do.

Thanks, Lord. It has been a lovely day of contentment, for which I praise Your name.

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