Virtuous Living!

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”  Matthew 5:8
This is a strange beatitude in comparison to the others.  So far in the beatitudes, hope has been given to those unexpected and forgotten.  There is a sense that if things are not going well on the outside, there is still hope for what is happening, will happen when the Kingdom of God comes in full.  This beatitude, in a way, is a clarification to that line of thinking.  Right action is not the only requirement, right thought must be included in order to see God.  Simply acting meek, mournful, and righteous is not all that is required, there is more.

“Pure in heart”  can be understood to mean single-mindedness.  James, in his small but powerful book, refutes people who are double-minded.  They are chastised, asked to purify their hearts.  Therefore, we can safely say Jesus is speaking about actions matching thoughts, not making sure we don’t have too much bad cholesterol putting the organ that pumps clean blood around in jeopardy.

Jesus speaks of this notion later in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard it said do not kill, but I tell you anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.”  And again, “You have heard it said do not commit adultery, but I tell you anyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery.”

The call to virtuous living requires us to align our mind with our action.  It is not enough to do the right thing while thinking something else. You must be single-minded.  Put another way, let your yes be your yes and your no be your no.

In the deep south, where “bless their soul” is code for condemnation of the one being “blessed” and “sharing prayer requests” can be code for gossip, can we let our yes be our yes and our no be our no?  Can we live the virtuous life sharing what we think and do the hard work of cleaning up our thought life? 

Remember, out of the overflow of the heart, speaks the mouth.  Getting our thought life in order is harder than getting our actions in order, but it crucial if we are going to be about virtuous living.  And when we do it, we will see God and all that God is up to in the world!
For the Kingdom,

Jonathan Barlow