The Pure in Heart
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8; NASB)
Baseball, which is considered the great American past time, is a sport that has been loved by many for well over a century. It has a rich history, with many players from that sport being well known, even amongst those who do not follow it. Its a game that almost every American kid has played at sometime in their life, and finds a warm spot in the heart of all who have ever swung a bat, or shagged a fly ball. Because of its association with youth, baseball often invokes memories of days that were more simple and innocent for many.
As with any such sport, it is expected that when you play baseball, that you will come to the field with your game face on, prepared to do your best in order to win. But in the 1919 World Series, scandal rocked the baseball world when it was discovered that the Chicago White Sox came to the field prepared to do anything but win. Far from coming out on the field to play, for the love of the game, eight players were accused of deliberately throwing the World Series in order to win a bet, and barred from ever playing professional baseball again. The scandal was so bad that many would nickname the that Chicago White Sox team, the Black Sox.
I believe what we see in the 1919 Black Sox scandal is often a reflection of where many of us stand with the Lord today. Like the Sox, many of us are serving the Lord with a divided heart. Such a heart is not fully His. Just as the White Sox were playing in a World Series where they were not fully engaged in the game, and single-hearted in their devotion to winning, many of our hearts are not fully devoted to following the Lord. Like the Sox, we have other things in our hearts that are in competition with Him.
Ultimately what the White Sox lacked is what we are often so guilty of ourselves; we lack a pure heart. No doubt, there is some room for God in our hearts. But He is not first and foremost. As a result, what He wills and desires and what we will and desire are often two very different things. Instead of our heart beating after what Gods heart beats after, our heart often finds itself desiring some of the very things God hates.
Jesus warned of this predicament, saying, No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. (Matt. 6:24) How often though, do we try to prove Jesus wrong in this saying? Somehow we think we can be religious, yet we are careful to not be too religious. Somehow we think we can serve God, and at the same time, choose to keep a few little sins we really like around. And we act like its no big deal.
But to Jesus it is a big deal. The Lord said you cannot have it both ways. We must be all or nothing for Him. We might try to walk some imaginary tightrope between heaven and hell, and between God and the devil, but Christ ultimately taught that in the end, trying to live in such a manner would eventually cause us to turn on God and hate Him, and bring nothing but destruction to our lives. A house divided against itself simply cannot stand. (Matthew 12:25)
For in approaching God half-heartedly, the man with a divided heart enters into a world of deception. The half-hearted man either believes God is unaware of his fraud, or he believes that his half-hearted service unto God is good enough. Whichever is the case, the half-hearted mans skewed relationship with God will eventually pour out into his personal life. For if a man could behave in such a way in his relationship with the Lord, then how can he fail to behave in a like manner with his other relationships?
Knowing the destruction that a divided heart brings, not only in our relationship to God, but in our personal relationships, is it no wonder then that the Lord taught that it is those who are pure in heart that are blessed? They are blessed, not only because they will be spared from eternal misery, but because the pure in heart are the only ones who will see God. And why will they see God? Because the pure in heart are the only ones who are actually approaching God to gaze upon Him to begin with. Tightrope walkers, who are trying to balance themselves between heaven and hell, are too focused looking down at the rope they are walking on, to ever lift their eyes up to heaven and see Him who sits upon the throne.
Such is an unfortunate thing. For the tightrope walker, who is trying to have the best of both worlds, misses out in the end. Hes been deceived into thinking that this is the best thing for him, and by having the best of both worlds, he is in the position to gain the most. But in reality, this man is ultimately robbing himself, for he has failed to realize that his true treasure is stored for him in heaven. Hes failed to truly apprehend what is ultimately of greatest value. His mind is so dark and his heart so corrupted, that as much as he likes the idea of God and having eternal life, he chooses rather to pursue the things of this world.
So long as such a man thinks he can have both God and this world, he will try to be a balanced individual. Not too radical. Not too devoted. Just nice and lukewarm. But as soon as God gets in the way of his pursuit of the things in this world, God will be abandoned altogether. And this is just as Jesus said. You cannot serve two masters. You will either hate one, or love the other. You cannot be devoted to both, and in time, your heart will eventually reveal which one you truly love, and which one you have just put up with.
It is my prayer that you will ultimately choose to be devoted to the Lord, and to serve Him alone. And why should you do anything less, seeing how He has loved us with nothing less than His all? Please do not deceive yourself into thinking you can come the Lord with anything less than the entirety of your heart. For such is ultimately a lie that if believed, will bring you nothing but destruction, not only in this life, but in also in the next. Come to Him, and give your heart to nothing else. For there is no person, possession, or pleasure that can even begin to compare with knowing Him, and gazing upon His face.