1996-04-23 - Being Pure in Heart
A preface to this devotional. I ask these questions, at the end, to myself first and foremost. This devotional is aimed at no one, but it ends with questions, I am convinced, we must all ask ourselves. I hope you take this personally, deeply personally, but I premise it all by saying I am addressing nothing I have noticed or witnessed, I would simply address your hearts.
"A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, brings forth good things." Matthew 12:35
The divine Teacher, Christ, in this text, takes an occasion of speaking precious truths, from the poisonous blasphemies of the Scribes and Pharisees. He had just cast out a blind and dumb devil. This glorious miracle produced very different effects on different individuals. On the person possessed, it brought soundness; on the people, amazement; on the Pharisees, madness and blasphemy, in so much that they charge God himself, Christ, with being an imposture. To these last our Lord directs the discourse in which this text occurs. Christ exposes the heinous criminality of the slander; and exhorts them to repentance, urging them to conceive more correctly of divine works, and to speak of them more reverently; since for every idle word, they must give account in the day of judgment.
The treasure that is spoken of is described as the property of a good man. In an absolute sense, "there is none good but God". He alone possesses original, essential, independent, perfect goodness. But in a lower use of the term, the Scriptures call men good, who, through the application of atoning blood, and by the renewing influence of the Holy Spirit, have become imbued with the principles of vital godliness. Thus it is said of Barnabas, that "he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and faith". It is in this latter sense that the expression is used in the text.
It is a treasure of the heart. The heart is the mainspring of human conduct. As the sun moves and guides all the spheres of heaven; so does this little thing in the little world of man animate all his operations. By heart we mean the rational soul, with all its faculties of understanding, memory, will, and affection, which constitute the chief and noblest part of man. The heart is the seat of love and hatred, of joy and sorrow, of all that is excellent and of all that is corrupt in human character; and the heart of a Christian, purified and furnished from above, is rendered a depository of the choicest treasures; a cabinet of jewels most rare and precious.
So, when we say the good man, out of the good treasure of his heart, brings forth good things, we are saying that the character and conduct of every one of us will be in strict accordance with the state of our hearts. We can only judge the heart by the outward actions, but God judges the outward acts by the inward temper. Therefore there is a great truth in the saying of Luther, that, "good works do not make good men, but they must first be made good men, before they can do good works; so, on the other hand, evil works do not properly make evil men, but evil men are themselves the authors of evil works." No one can do good, except he first be good; there must be a laying in before there can be a laying out.
So how is your heart? How is it with you? Is there a good treasure in your heart? Scripture says of the unrenewed heart, "There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, There is not even one." (Romans 3:10-12) How is your heart? Is your heart a rich depository of the choicest treasures, a cabinet of Jewels most rare and precious? Only you know.