“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God”. This statement is as simple as it is deep. There is a common saying that “we do not see things as they are; we see them as we are”. This is consistent with Scripture. Titus 1:15 reads, “To the pure, all things are pure…”. To see God requires that the many barriers and biases in our hearts be taken away so we can perceive God clearly, without prejudice or pride. Clarity of perception, not only in seeing God, but also in discerning people, demands that we maintain pure hearts.
So how do we maintain pure hearts? By meditating on the Word of God. God’s Word reveals his highest expectations for us, and leads us into truth. It exposes faults in our thinking, and brings us face-to-face with our shortcomings. If we submit to its authority, we are persuaded to restructure our thoughts and change our ways. If we do not, we resist and reject him, remaining in darkness, which many have done. But to admit His ways are higher and better, and to yield to them: this is how we develop a heart that is pure.
Scripture References: Matthew 5:8, Psalm 119:9
In every healthy human relationship, there must be a good dose of a repentant attitude on both sides. We are constantly learning about each other, and finding out things about our friends, families and colleagues. If we are not disposed to “repent” or make changes, we are very likely to keep hurting or offending people we claim to love. We must commit to doing better when we fall short, and our commitment has to be backed up by the right actions. This is the language of true love – making sacrifices for the sake of other people.
On the other hand, the absence of true repentance gives room for breeding of mistrust. We humans are creatures of habit and judgment. We watch patterns and make deductions. When you don’t make changes after you claim to be sorry or repentant, you send a clear message that you do not mean your words. Whether they pick on it quickly or not, people remember, and when the great occasion comes when you need their trust, they will call to mind your behaviour. It is very important that we consciously commit to learning and evolving in every relationship.
The thing about repentance is: it always has to be backed up by an action or a proof of change. The very word, “repent”, means to turn away from an action, behaviour or way of life, and embrace an opposite or different action, behaviour, or way of life. This is why John asked the Pharisees to produce fruits worthy of repentance – evidence in lifestyle that they have truly changed their ways. They came out in their numbers to hear him preach but his challenge to them was that of a changed lifestyle. You need to show me proof!
The preaching of repentance in the gospel must always be accompanied by the preaching of faith. This is because the natural man, at his best, is not capable of living in a way that pleases God. To be convicted and desire to change is one thing. To truly take practical steps in living differently requires the power that only Jesus can give. In the words of Jesus, “You must be born again”. To be born again or empowered to live differently requires faith in the resurrected Christ. A man turning from his sins must turn to face Jesus Christ.
Scripture References: Matthew 3:8, Luke 3:8, Acts 20:21, Hebrews 6:1
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (I Thess. 5:18, NIV)
Today, I want to send you a quick reminder for a very important Christian attitude: giving thanks! Giving thanks refers to speaking words of appreciation to someone for something they have done (or will do) – an expression of our gratitude to them. While I will focus on giving thanks to God, I also realize that a thankful heart towards God usually doubles as a thankful heart towards fellow human beings. As simple as it is to give thanks, it is an attitude that many have not cultivated because they have allowed their situation to determine their attitude.
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