“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8)
I’ve been studying the Sermon on the Mount with the aid of Kay Arthur’s study, Lord, Only You Can Change Me, and Sinclair Ferguson’s book, The Sermon on the Mount: Kingdom Life in a Fallen World. These words from Mr. Ferguson on Matthew 5: 8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Emphases are mine.)
“Being pure in heart means letting nothing stand in the way of our vision of Christ. He is a great Saviour and Lord. But great things can be completely obscured by small things if the small things are brought near enough to our eyes. The issue, therefore, is not how important something is in itself, but how closely we fix our gaze upon it. We see that this world has nothing to compare to Jesus Christ and all that he offers to us. But when we hold this world and its contents too near, we no longer see Christ and his glory so clearly. The value of this world grows out of proportion. We compromise, stumble and fall.
“Jesus’ teaching here provides us with a simple test of the strength of our Christian lives. How clearly do we see God in all his glory? Do we see him as clearly as we used to? Or has he become obscure and distant? Have we maintained the sharpness of our vision of him through whole-hearted commitment to him? Are we pure in heart?”
We sin because we are making something else more important than God. Our focus becomes a person, a thing, an emotion, a desire, and while we focus on that, we block from our vision God in all His glory. Then, as our vision of God’s glory dims, so does our zeal to obey Him.
We can help our children visualize this truth with a simple object lesson:
- Have them look at a large object, such as a door, a window, or a large painting.
- Ask if they can see it. (Duh. Yes.)
- Give them each a small book to hold in their laps.
- Can they still see the large object? (Still an obvious yes)
- Have them hold the book out at arm’s length in front of them.
- Can they still see the large object? (Yes, but it may be partly obstructed from their view.)
- Now have them hold the book up close, directly in front of their eyes.
- Can they see the object anymore? (No, the book, when it is so close, has become too large to see around, and they can no longer see the door or window or painting that they could see before.)
- Is there anything wrong with the book? Is it bad because it is blocking his view? (No, it’s just become too large when it’s up so close to his eyes, and so it blocks his view. He just needs to move it back down or away from his eyes.)
Discuss this together and then help each child see that the same thing happens when he chooses to make other things more important than Jesus Christ on His throne.
When he focuses on getting a toy that someone else is playing with, that desire can block out his view of God and the people God has made in His image. It can become more important than obeying God by loving his neighbor as himself.
When he focuses on friends, and the opinions of friends, those friendships can block his view of God’s glory, and lead him to be more concerned about his own glory and popularity, often resulting in further compromise and sin.
When he spends the majority of his time at the computer playing games and surfing the Internet, he may end up allowing those activities to block his view of God and dull his commitment to learning more about Him and serving Him and His children.
Share stories from your own life when you have let other things block your view of God and His glory. Has an overemphasis on good things like a clean house, a happy marriage, a perfect homeschooled family, even serving in your church, led you to take your eyes off of God who is the giver of all good things? What were the results?
Are any of these activities or desires bad in themselves? No. But when they become our focus, our perspective changes, our view of God changes, and our focus continues to change as we seek satisfaction from the creature instead of the Creator. Until we step back and refocus, tearing down those things that block our view of our glorious God and Savior, we will find ourselves stepping further and further off of the path of love for and obedience to our God.
Help your children keep their view of God clear (and let them see you keeping your own view unobstructed, too).