Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(2nd post in a series about the heart)
I recently complained to my dear sister-in-law Debi about some difficulty I was having in dealing with my 47 year old autistic brother. His stubbornness and my impatience had once again clashed. Immediately I felt ashamed however – and told her so – to which she replied “I know that you have a good heart and meant well.” Did I? Does my complaining- even when I think it is justified – ever flow from good intentions? Why do I complain about anyone and especially my brother, whose life experience has largely been one of rejection and difficulty?
How can this heart of mine – which professes to love Jesus – so quickly spew out garbage?
The Bible has a great deal to say about the human heart, and often connects it to ones thoughts. “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he”. (Proverbs 23:7) What my mind understands, my heart gives value to. The overflow of my heart is perhaps the clearest revelation of who I really am; and that at times is not very becoming. But I excuse myself because of “good intentions.”
Debi defended me in this manner – just like parents excuse their kids on the basis of “good hearts.” “He did not mean to hurt her” or “she would never cheat on purpose because she has an honest heart.” Yet the Bible tells us that the human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9) Jesus said that out of the heart proceeds evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. (Matthew 15: 19)
I want my human heart to become a pure heart, one that is unwilling to spill forth bitterness or anger or slander or gossip or complaint. When I think that this human heart of mine is where Christ chooses to dwell through faith (Ephesians 3;16) and where He accomplishes His cleansing work, I am awed.
My heart is the dwelling place of the living God. Wow!
Therefore I must prepare my heart for Him – empty of my own thoughts and open to His – so that He will create in me a clean heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10) The preparations of the heart belong to man; the answer of the tongue is from the LORD. All the ways of a man are pure in his own ways, but the LORD weighs the spirits. Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established. (Proverbs 16:1-2)
It’s with a pure heart that I can see God.
It’s only with a pure heart that I begin to see my brother in a new light as well. It’s when God takes out my heart of stone and replaces it with a heart that beats like His (Ezekiel 36:26), that I can begin to love as He commands me to. I don’t know why God formed Michael in an autistic fashion, but I do know that He does not make mistakes. We can be so focused on the differences in others that we fail to see how these very differences can enrich our lives and inform our hearts. Michael is a precious child of God. With his autism – not in spite of – he was created with value and purpose and with unique strengths. Despite knowing Michael my entire life, I can’t really say I understand him. I want to rid my heart of annoyance and impatience and grow instead an empathetic heart for him.
Make my heart pure, dear Lord, so that I can see you more clearly and see others as You see them. Thank you for the special brother you have given me. Teach me to see him in ways that enrich my life and inform my heart. I want to love him as he is and not focus so much on how to change him. He has a lot to teach me about patience and empathy and I thank you for him. Amen.