Pure in Heart

About 15 years ago, I decided to get a permanent reminder of who is Lord of my life. I knew I wanted it on my wrist so that I could always see it, but I wrestled with what design I wanted. It needed to be perfect; which coincidentally was the lesson I was about to learn. After a year of praying, I landed on the bible verse Matthew 5:8:

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

This verse comes from the beatitudes, otherwise known as the sermon on the mount. If you have ever been in a crowd of people to hear someone speak, you can relate to Jesus's audience. If it's someone you really want to see, then you sacrifice comfort to get even a little bit closer. I imagine this is how every person felt the day Jesus gave this sermon. They were desperate to see him, to hear him, to understand what he was teaching. He called them blessed; the ones who were hungry and thirsty for God. They were pure in heart.

I never understood the cross quite like I did until the day I read that verse. I really wanted to see God, but the way I was going about it would never suffice. I thought I had to be perfect to fellowship with God so I tried my best to do and say all the “right” things. This often left me feeling worse off and shameful when I messed up. 

What I learned then and understand even better now is: He makes me holy, sanctified and pure. It’s not by my own efforts. I can’t earn the spot to see Him better. I can’t make myself clean by any good acts or just following the rules. I need His work on the cross to free me from the chains wrapped around my heart. 

My desire to be with Him is the only requirement I need. He will take care of the purification.

I wish I could say that ever since the day my tattoo was permanently inked onto my wrist I’ve never fought the urge to earn my holiness. I still live in a world where performance triumphs and praise is dolled out for my human effort. Thankfully, I know God is merciful and gracious with me. He is constantly working to burn the dross from my heart. And where the mark on my wrist fails, His marked hands never do. 


  1. Stop trying to be pure-hearted. Set down all the things you are doing to earn His favor. You already have it.
  2. Confess your sin. Sin doesn't have to leave you doing the "shame dance". Once you confess it, He throws it into the depths of the ocean.
  3. Seek His face. The people who went to listen to the sermon on the mount just wanted a glimpse of Jesus. May we be so eager.

By

JL McCarthy

September 22, 2020