“You’re blessed when you get your inside worldâ€”your mind and heartâ€”put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.â€Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Matthew 5:8 (The Message)
The KJV and many versions state this verse as â€œblessed are the pure in heartâ€. Jesus is exhorting us to cleanse our hearts so that we are not â€œwhitewashed tombsâ€ (Matthew 23:27); clean on the outside and stinking on the inside. It is living on that slippery slope of trying to look like something different than I really am.
A friend and teacher, Dr. Alden Thompson, was the first one to introduce me to the concept of a â€œslippery slopeâ€. One of the examples that he gave was when you hold your religious beliefs so tightly and in such a tiny â€œboxâ€ that when God acts outside that box, our faith takes a severe blow and we are in crisis.
One night (maybe a dozen years ago) during a sharing time at a Sunday evening worship, a young man stood up and spoke straight in my heart. He told us his story of how God had brought him out of alcohol and his life was changed. He read the Bible and prayed. He was happy. He thought he had â€œarrivedâ€. And so he missed a Bible study or worship time when he had to work late the night before. No big deal. Then it was 2-3 misses. Then a month. He said it seemed like â€œno time at allâ€ and he was back drinking more than he ever had before. He almost died. He told us that he had reached a â€œspiritual plateauâ€ where he thought he couldnâ€™t fall. He was wrong. With tears, he said he felt he now how a glimpse of how precious was his relationship with God. If his body and mind needed daily â€œexerciseâ€ to stay healthy and grow then so did his spirit. I have never forgotten Teddyâ€™s words.
Each of us have potential slippery slopes in our lives. We have areas that temptation finds weakness to plant its sly, insidious fungus that will infect and destroy. Alcohol is a weakness for me. I have no spiritual (Biblical) problem with drinking in moderation. If wine was good enough for Jesus, then drinking wine (or whatever alcohol) with dinner, in moderation, is not a sin. (Drunkenness is. Romans 13, Galatians 5, 1 Peter 4) One drink is for me, however. The day after my divorce was final I heard Godâ€™s voice speak to me as clearly as any human voice. â€œJody, you do not need to drink alcohol. It is a slippery slope for you.â€ Now I have always been a independent and stubborn all my life. (Ask my older brother!) But since I had drank a six-pack of beer the day before after I came home from court, I decided maybe God had some wisdom! I donâ€™t drink just one drink. So I will listen to God and not drink alcohol.
What is your slippery slope? What is it in your life that you know God is trying to cleanse out of your heart and mind? Is it gossip or a critical tongue? Is it the literature you read or the movies you watch? And hear me clearly: Let me pay attention to God speaking about cleaning me and not try to place this â€˜wordâ€™ on others in a critical, judgmental way! Didnâ€™t Jesus say something about the plank in my eye vs. the sawdust in someone elseâ€™s (Luke 6:41)?
I want to be pure in heart and mind. I want to stay away from the edges of slippery cliffs. I want to see God. I need to see God. I want my life to be like â€œWindex glassâ€. Crystal clear. No shadowy, smokey glass. Clear eyes being the lamp that gives light in my cleansed mind and spirit (Matthew 6:22-23). Help me, LORD!
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Psalm 51:10 (KJV)