A Heart that Wills One Thing


“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

What does it mean to be pure in heart?

When Jesus speaks of a pure heart, he is talking about a heart that is not corrupt, tainted, adulterated, mixed, or divided. It is a heart that is single mindedly focused on one thing and that one thing only. Søren Kierkegaard speaks of this in his book “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing”. Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes the pure heart as “those who have surrendered their hearts completely to Jesus that he may reign in them alone. The pure in heart have a child-like simplicity… their hearts are not ruled by their conscience, but by the will of Jesus.” A pure heart does not have the slightest room or leeway to share it’s space with any other things outside of God.

“...for they shall see God.”

Jesus promises that those who have a pure heart, will see God. This does not equate to a face to face experience of seeing God, as we see in scripture that no one on earth has seen or can see God (1 Tim. 6:16). On the contrary, it is something much greater that begins in the very depths of our soul, perceived only by the heart and not the naked eye. We can look at something and see it, but it is another thing to know, understand, and recognize it. Though the Israelites had seen all that the Lord had done in Egypt (signs and wonders), they did not have the eyes to see or the heart to know (Deut. 29:2-4). Paul prayed for the church of Ephesus that the “eyes of their heart” may be opened (Eph.1:18). To be able to truly know God and be able to see His works, it must begin in the heart. Oswald Chambers quotes, “When a man’s heart is right with God the mysterious utterances of the Bible are spirit and life to him. Spiritual truth is discernible only to a pure heart, not to a keen intellect. It is not a question of profundity of intellect, but of purity of heart.” So then it should come off as no surprise that Jesus makes a direct correlation between the condition of the heart and the ability to see. Only when we have a pure heart are we able to see God with a sense of knowing, understanding, and recognizing Him and His work all around us.

The problem today is that more often than not, people so easily allow other desires into their hearts without even knowing. The start of “a little can’t hurt” becomes the very first step in loosening the grip of our guarded hearts. Furthermore what we believe to be innocent and rather “wise” things have all the tendencies in becoming an idol. When God granted Solomon any wish he desired, Solomon asked for wisdom. As the story unfolds, what once began as an honest and a good request, eventually leads to the downfall and division of his kingdom. “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and His heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been.”(1 Kgs. 11:4) Here was a man who in his early years was so deeply rooted in love, having learned the ways of his father David, but because of the infidelity of his heart, had lost sight of God and His commands, resulting in the destruction of his kingdom.

There was a time in my life when my heart wasn’t so complicated. I had just graduated from undergrad and I began working as a newly hired temp. Freshly out of college, I had loans to pay (a LOT of loans) on top of the normal living expenses. During that same time, I began receiving many support letters from those that were planning on going to summer missions trip. I remember thinking then if I can’t go on missions, I at least wanted to support those who do. One night my mother came to visit and I began sharing with her all the ways I had been supporting these missionaries. She looked at me with concern and asked about my needs and if I had any leftover to save. I did not, and to be honest I hadn’t even thought of it. I went to sleep that night wondering and asking God if what I had done was foolish and rash and at what point I needed to draw the line between giving and saving. The very next day as I went into work, my HR manager called me into her office and told me that the president of the company took notice and was happy with my performance, and wanted to reward me with a bonus (an amount substantially larger than all I had given out). A month after that I was hired full time.

I share this story because it was during that time where I feel like my heart was the most “unmixed” and “whole” in seeking after God and the things of God. I had one goal in mind, and that was to love God and follow Him wholeheartedly. The thought of saving and paying off school loans were in my mind, just not ahead of what was first. But over the years, I had allowed some needs and desires to take up more space than I ought, which eventually found its way to the center seat of my heart. What I failed to realize was that although many “wise” and innocent desires may seem good at first, if not carefully maintained, will begin to compete and demand for more space to eventually consume our hearts, ultimately interfering and clouding our sight of God. This cannot be any more true in my personal experiences. I find that it is an ongoing struggle and battle in not allowing any other needs to take precedence over my need for God.

I remember hearing one of my pastors a while back saying that when it comes to making a tough decision in life, take the one that requires more faith. At the time I wasn’t sure what the pastor meant, and thought rather that sounded foolish. However I’ve learned over the years that regardless the outcome, the most important thing is that we guard our hearts and not allow anything to interfere with our sight of God. I find absolute comfort knowing that whatever steps I take to keep my heart pure before God, not only do I see Him, but He sees me. Maybe that’s why the woman with the alabaster jar didn’t think twice; why Peter immediately jumped off the boat into the water; why Abraham obediently took Isaac up the mountain. Having a pure heart is not concentrating on eliminating all other things. Instead, it is to be so fixated on God that all other things either fade away or find its place under submission of the One who is centered.


David Chung (@davidsachung) is a husband and an accountant who graduated from Biola University with a B.S. in Accounting. He currently resides in Mission Viejo, CA.

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