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People often like rituals. One of my favorite baseball players has a specific ritual when he steps up to bat. He tucks the bat under his arm and tightens each batting glove. Then he takes the bat and flips it in his hand. He then taps the toe of his right shoe, then his left, then his right. He steps into the batter’s box and takes a couple of swings. Then, just before the pitch, he does a little wiggle with his upper body. It is quite a sight! He is a good player, but his ritual does not make him good.
When Jesus spoke the Beatitude in Matthew 5:8, I wonder if he had rituals in mind. He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” (NIV) You see, the Pharisees in Jesus’ day had a lot of rituals. They thought their rituals made them good, moral people. They were wrong. Listen to Luke 11:39-41, “Then the Lord said to him, ‘Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.’” (NIV)
Being pure in heart is not about outward rituals, whether they are devotional habits, church attendance or giving offerings. It is about purity in our inner self.
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Bumper music “Landing Place” performed by Mark July, used under license from Shutterstock.