Saturday, July 14, 2012

Purity of Heart

"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)
We are not as honest with ourselves as we think. Self-deception is a mark of sin. Deceiving oneself from recognizing this sin is hiding. Beneath the nice clothes, the attractive titles we wear, the smiles we display to the public, lies a little child, unsure, defensive, and utterly fearful of being found out. What if people find out my position? Will I be embarrassed? Will I be ignored, reprimanded, or scandalized? When in doubt, better stick to silence.

We are not as peace-loving as we like to believe we are. Each time I read the news, especially controversial matters, it is easy to find ourselves taking sides. From defending traditional marriages to modern gay rights movements, from conservative to liberal, from left to right, the world at large is divided. With division comes the opportunity for the ambitious to seize power. With power comes tyranny. With tyranny comes oppression. With oppression comes the curtailing of basic human rights. Think Hitler. Think Pol Pot. Think racism. Even the West has been guilty of certain oppressions. Think Rodney King and the infamous police beatings, the LA riots. The one famous for the words, "Can we all get along?" died recently on June 17th, 2012. The peaceful neighbourhoods of LA erupted with multiple riots back in 1992. Even more recent, the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots reared their ugly heads during peacetime hockey in 2010. For a culture that preaches peace, that so readily practices violence, begs some serious reflection. Are we as peace-loving as we think we are?

We are not as gracious as we think. What is our default reaction when we receive a negative feedback? Do we give the benefit of the doubt? Do we see the positives more than the negatives? Do we approach the matter with cool minds, rather than hot heads? Say someone word an email to you in a negative tone. What is your default reaction?

We are not as righteous as we think. Everyone has an opinion. Even having no opinion is already an opinion. We like to talk about other people but not our own weaknesses. It is far too dangerous to share our minds. It is much safer to talk about other people, especially the scandals being revealed in the press.

We are not as pure as we like to think. From one issue to the other, on the surface, we seem pure and non-judgmental. We seem most smart and righteous. The truth is, many of us flounder when it comes to trying to behave as if we are pure and righteous. Like what the arms of the law often tell criminals: "You can run but you cannot hide."

Cultivate purity of heart. Like the famous Kierkergaard, who teaches us, "Purity of heart is to will one thing." If we want to see well outside, we need to be clear first inside. If we want external vision, we need to wash away inner vagueness. If we want to be pure, cultivate exercises to help us address impurity. If we want to see others correctly, learn to see ourselves correctly. If we want to be godly, learn from God's perspective rather than people. 

Purity of heart is to be honest with ourselves, plain and simple. Call sin sin. Call wrong wrong. Call good good. Let our yes be yes, and our no, no. Despite what many in the world think about their maturity, they are often more childish than not.

Purity of heart cultivates peace. It sees the good in others. It asks God to make us channels of God's peace. It brings healing to a world of hurts. It brings understanding to a world of controversies. It brings love in a world of hate and distrust. It brings faith amid the darkness, by shining a light of hope.

Purity of heart instils quietness within. It has one main aim. See God. When one is washed of sin, one's eyes will glimmer with tears of joy, swimming in the waters of forgiveness.

Purity of heart showers grace and peace. It causes us to abound in love. It makes us want to do good, not just thinking about it. Purity of heart by default seeks to redeem the lost, salvage the hopeless, and to bring sight to the blind. First, the work of purity must begin inside.

When we try to wash the dirt off others, wash them with clean pure water, not muddy ones. Are we purified by God's grace? Are we coming in God's peace? Are we humbly seeking God?

Purity of heart is to will one thing.

Let true love be our driving passion. When love is on the driving seat, great things can be done for the kingdom of God. Pure love is true love.

"Missionary zeal does not grow out of intellectual beliefs, nor out of theological arguments, but out of love." (Roland Allen)



Tan S.Y. said...

Dr Yap

I am the lady who wrote to you recently in response to your article on the Three Planks to Remove.

In going thru your blog today, I note that you are a prolific writer. As said, I found the few articles I read in your blog to be interesting and spiritually uplifting / enlightening so will be logging into your blog more regularly after I retire (I found your article of three planks in, a website I enjoy logging into).

I just read your article about Purity of Heart. Indeed God calls us all believers to have a pure heart but oh, it is a tall order and how we struggle to meet his call. Self-deception is such a phenomenon that none of us can honestly claim that we don’t have this disease. Even when we think that for one single day or for a short time that we have managed to lick this disease in us, like cancer it can and will recur again and yet again.

And what is worrisome is that we don’t know or deny that our heart is not pure. We think we are alright, well better than somebody else at least. Woe unto us.

Yours truly know how easy it is to live in self-deception, admitting this not because I am spiritually modest, as you alluded to in your earlier email to me, but because I know how wretched my flesh can be. The verse “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” is so apt.

I was just reading Psalm 51 where David prayed “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me” and this prayer is what we ought to utter frequently as we allow ourselves, if we are willing, to be humble in the presence of a holy God.

Tan S.Y.

I must mention that I would share your articles whenever I find them illuminating with some members of the home group I attend. I too will share my e-exchange with you. I will of course give due credit to you as the source of these articles and direct them to your blog if they wish to check it out personally (don't want any plagiarism issues). These church friends of mine are busy working adults and don’t have the luxury of my impending retirement to scour the website for interesting materials, be it current affairs, politics or Christian stuff (my favourites).

Hope that you don’t mind.

Conrade Yap, (Dr) said...

Dear Tan S.Y.

Thank you for your kind words. You have encouraged me. You are most welcome to share the articles, and I am very honoured to be able to let my articles be a blessing to my readers. Feel free to share them as you see fit.


Latest Posts