June 7, 2012

Insight Into Your Heart

Blessed are the pure in heart because they will see God (Matthew 5:8).  Defining a pure heart is often related to abstaining from a list of behaviors deemed off limits to those that love God. To some extent this is true, however I want to suggest that a pure heart is a heart that practices forgiveness.

Abuse survivors as well as people that have been emotionally wounded often ask me why they should forgive since they are the victims.  My answer is always the same, "Because Jesus forgives us and we are trying to be like Him." (Matthew 5:44-45; Mark 11:25-26).  I frequently remind people that Jesus forgives us every time we ask and that the degree of our misconduct does not affect His willingness to erase our sin.  Many often object because they believe that forgiving the person that has violated or offended them means excusing the abuse.  They believe that unforgiveness gives them control.  In reality unforgiveness gives abusers control over us.  I want to suggest that developing a lifestyle of forgiveness is a great way to create a pure heart.

It is common for hurting people to tell me that they don't 'feel' like forgiving those that have hurt them.   Forgiveness is not an emotion, it is a decision.  God will honor a person's choice, and their choice is the key that opens their heart to God's healing work.  Many people misunderstand forgiveness and believe that genuine forgiveness means establishing a relationship with the person that abused them.  Forgiving someone that has violated you does not mean that you have to meet them for coffee.  It does require that you release offenses, judgement and vengeance to the Lord.

Forgiveness is a life force that transforms a hardened heart into a pure heart.  The process of forgiveness begins with acknowledgement of our need to forgive.  Jesus said that if we confess (acknowledge) our sin (unforgiveness) that He will not only forgive us but that He will cleanse our heart (1 John 1:9).  In this context 'confess' is defined as 'to speak agreeable with the truth'.  When we choose to forgive someone that has wounded us we are choosing to embrace God's truth.  God's ways are always the path that enables us to create a pure heart.

I want to suggest that when we pray and ask God to create a clean heart in us (Psalm 51:10) that we understand that a pure heart cannot be separated from a forgiving heart.  Our ability to forgive or not forgive is valuable insight into the condition of our heart.

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