Throughout Lent we are all striving to grow closer to God and become better Christians. The Bible tells us to “purify our hearts” in order to become holier.
Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. (James 4:8)
The Old Testament especially has many commands from God and prophets on the need to purify the altar, their sacrifices and themselves before entering the sanctuary or worshiping the Lord (Numbers 19:12-13 and 20, Nehemiah 13:22, Exodus 29:36, Zephaniah 3:9, Leviticus 14:52, and from the New Testament 2 Corinthians 7:1).
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:9)
Through the waters of Baptism we are washed pure, free from sin. Yet we spend the rest of our lives trying to be cleansed again to become holy as Christ was holy. Sacramental forgiveness through Reconciliation helps to occasionally wipe our slates clean, but we will never be perfectly pure and sinless as Jesus was. How are we supposed to accomplish this on our own, and what does a pure heart look like?
We can get a clue from St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians:
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Those qualities are what a holy, pure believer dwells on in their mind and heart. By focusing our inner thoughts on these things, then quality, pure words and actions come out of us. Through prayer, devotion to God and the willingness to follow His will in all circumstances we purify our hearts.
Other qualities to strive to grow in throughout Lent include: honesty, sincerity, selflessness, compassion, non-judgmental, innocence, modesty, merciful and above all Faith, Hope and Love for our one true God.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8). Having a pure heart means you are devoted to God every day and want to please Him so you will see His presence around you and feel Him in church and while praying. As you strive to continue to grow in these final weeks of Lent, be assured your efforts towards purity will lead you to see God reward you both here on earth and in heaven.
Copyright 2020 Colleen Mallette