Pure = Single

The verse is a familiar one –

“Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.”

That’s a pretty great promise; and that’s the trajectory of our spiritual relationship, right? Intimacy? Moving deeper and deeper into the arms of God? That’s where we want to head as believers, and indeed that’s what makes heaven heaven… to know God as we are already known.

And based on this verse, it’s pretty simple: pure heart = seeing God. When I think about purity, I think it about in terms of morality. Purity is equivalent to faultlessness. And surely there’s an element of truth in that. Part of growing in Christ is becoming more and more fully given over to God’s desire in any and every situation. The effect is a circular one—you become more and more obedient, you experience more and more revelation of the person of God, and you become more and more obedient, and so on and so forth.

But there’s an interesting thing about this verse having to do with the word “pure.” It has more of a meaning of “single.” Using that substitution, you have the verse reading like this: “Blessed are the single in heart, for they will see God.”

Single. One thing.

Maybe an expanded translation of the verse, using this idea, might help us to get at another aspect of the meaning: “Blessed are those who are solely committed to seeking and knowing God. Blessed are those whose hearts are only committed to this pursuit, for they will find what they’re looking for. Blessed are the fixated. Blessed are the ones with the holy obsession. Blessed are the ones who run hard after Him.”

Soren Kirkeegard remarked to this end, “Purity of heart is to will one thing.” Given that, if I want to know God more fully each day, maybe the work isn’t just to try my darndest to get rid of anything impure in my life. Sure, that’s part of it, but that “getting rid” isn’t an end in itself; rather, it’s fueled by my single-minded pursuit of God. That affection for Christ is what drives out the bad.

Give us grace, God, to be “single.”

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