by Samuel Chiang
(Editor’s note: This is the 6th in an 8-part series on The Beatitudes & Evangelism [reference: Matthew 5:3-10].)
A number of years ago my wife, Robbi, informed me as I stepped into our apartment that she had it out with God that day and that she was going to study every appearance of the word ‘heart’ in the Bible. She assured me that this was a good exercise, and I did not give it too much thought as I went into my home office. She stated that as she was on this journey and that chances were that I would be on it too. I thought to myself that this might be interesting.
I began thinking about how many times the word ‘heart’ appears in the Bible. I ran my Bible software and found out that the word appeared 816 times in the NASB version. In fact, ‘heart’ appeared more times than the combined counts of the words ‘love’ and ‘obey’—573 and 103, respectively. I became alarmed!
I realized that on a daily basis it would take well over two years to study every appearance of the word heart. So, I asked Robbi if this was her plan. She told me that she intended to study every appearance of the word and would not move on to the next appearance of the word until the Holy Spirit had finished working with her in the present passage. I stared at her in amazement, and she said informed me that this was a “lifetime pursuit!”
The word ‘pure’ in its root carries the idea of ‘unmixed’, ‘clean’, ‘cleanse from filth’. As Jesus talked about being ‘pure in heart,’ we may think of it as a ‘cleansed’ heart, or a ‘clean’ heart. This clean heart is not one that compares oneself to another person, but one that is looking at God.
Our gospel witness can be marred because the heart is unclean. Our witness can be ineffective because the heart is mixed with ‘results’ intended to get the other person to pray the sinner’s prayer. Our witness can also be ineffective because we live an uncleansed life.
Since that day over a decade ago when Robbi informed me of her pursuit, she and I have been on a heart journey. For me, it is a continual journey to have the purity of my heart examined before God, while inviting Him to speak into my heart. I have found that He is pleased and ready to do so and that this is indeed a lifetime journey.
How is the state of your heart? Is ‘pure in heart’ the way you prefer to live? Are others able to sense and enjoy your ‘pure in heart’—and as a result, see God?
Samuel Chiang is executive director of the International Orality Network. Born in Taiwan, he grew up and worked in Canada and formerly served as COO of TWR. He has authored book chapters in diverse genres including innovation, orality, and persecution.