Book of Proverbs: 31 verses from 31 chapters in 31 days – The pure in heart (20:9)

Day 20: The pure in heart (20:9)

Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

For someone who truly follows the Lord, a verse like this can hit us like a bolt out of the blue. After all, such a person fears the Lord and seeks righteousness such that his aim is for his actions to be, rather than a mixture of pure and impure, only pure. Yet our text does not qualify “who” is referred to, so we can take it personally and face up to the reality that even with our most noble and doing it for the glory of God and the good of others motives, there is always the possibility of an element of impurity creeping, and if nothing else it should keep us humble and take us of our “holy” high horse when challenged. Looking at the context (verse before and verse after), we read “Leaders who know their business and care keep a sharp eye out for the shoddy and cheap, or who among us can be trusted to be always diligent and honest? Switching price tags and padding the expense account are two things God hates” (20:8-10 MSG). Both the before and after verses refer to what purity looks like in real terms: in our business dealings we must give of our best and be honest in all what we do.

Related texts on this theme to be found in our chapter include: “Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?” (20:6), suggesting that our focus should be on being loyal and loving rather than merely talking about it. Then we are told a sober truth of how one is known by what one does, and while it is to do with children it could well apply to anyone of us: “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (20:11). Finally, an even more sober truth is how God is in charge of human life, and watches and examines us inside and out: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly” (20:27).

But we wrap up our thoughts on the importance of purity with a quote from the OT: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully (Psalm 24:3,4). And one from the NT, part of Jesus teachings referred to as the beatitudes: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” Matthew 5:8. In both our verses we are told that the reward of a pure heart is we shall see God, and that ought to be our aim.

Prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. We thank you that all your ways are pure. Cleanse us from all impurity, even if the refining process is a painful one, so that our hearts are pure.

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