Pure Heart – Psalm 51:12

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew within me a steadfast spirit. Psalm 51:12

And I will give them another heart and a new spirit I will put within them.
From their bodies I will remove the hearts of stone, and give them hearts of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19

Changes of heart come from God. If I am looking for purity I must seek God, becoming attuned to God’s love. God’s movement in our lives is the movement of love, showing us how to love him through love of others. 

What is love? One aspect is the idea that others are first. We tend to be people who selfish and self-centered, but it is in giving up these desires for self that we see God. It is looking at others with a pure heart, a soft heart that we are seeing through the lens of God. Looking upon others as God sees them we can only love. God loves all, which in this aspect means God puts all before himself. 

When looking at things from a self-centered perspective we are anxious and attached. From the Buddhist perspective this is a great cause of suffering. If we desire something to be happy and we don’t receive it we suffer. In buddhism I hear often that happiness is the absence of suffering. Though a truth of Buddha is there is suffering, we can work to remove suffering by not putting expectations and attachments on others and things. 

The message of Jesus is to love others, he calls it a commandment but in reality it is a message of happiness,  for the person putting other first. If a change of heart is our desire, we must serve others, with a pure heart. If you think about the times you helped others, unconditionally, it is likely you have a good feeling about those memories. I know for myself when I give purely, without any quid pro qua, I enjoy lasting happy memories. 

I worked at a church for a number of years and enjoyed my service to others but there is always moments when I saw God in another asking for help. One time alone in a back room of the church, I was working. It was a Sunday and many were scatted through-out the church and the other areas of church buildings where people sat for coffee and religious instruction. I was surprised when a young man came into the room, obviously passing many others. His presence startled me.

I am not sure what he saw in me but he asked me if I had any shoes, his shoes were all broken up. He also asked for something to eat. The only shoes I had were the ones I was wearing and he was fine accepting them off my feet. I went and made a couple sandwiches, in the church kitchen, and with the sandwiches and shoes he went on his way. I never saw him again or knew where he came from. I spent the rest of the morning thinking about God as I worked in my stocking feet, serving others in great happiness.

There is no doubt in my mind this young man was sent by God. It was a chance for him to be helped and for me to see that serving is a path to happiness. It wasn’t difficult to give him shoes and food, I had plenty in my life and the shoes were replaced in no time. But the change of heart lasted more than ten years so far and I don’t expect it will ever leave me. 

This is how my heart is changed. When I am not expecting to serve, when I don’t receive anything of material value, but in giving I am given. Suffering is gone, and the message that being unattached allows happiness. God doesn’t reach down from the sky and pull out a heart of stone to replace it with a fleshy heart. God’s manner of change is by giving us opportunities to change, giving us a chance to help others and by helping our hearts of stone are turned to hearts of flesh. 

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