If I ever lose sight of the importance of the condition of my heart, I pray that I am directed back to the words of Jesus himself from the most well-known sermon He ever gave. (Matt 5:3-7:27)
By five verses into the sermon, I read that I am blessed and will see God when my heart is pure. In case I wasn't sure that to have purity in heart means to have but one purpose in life ~ to love God, He went on to give numerous examples throughout the rest of the sermon.
He alludes to the famous list of do's and don'ts from Exodus known as the ten commandments and confirms that the importance of keeping this “law” was not lost when He came to earth. However, we learn from the New Testament and His sacrifice on the cross, that it is more about what is in our hearts than not committing the acts.
We know well the commandment “Do not murder”, but to be angry and unforgiving toward someone carries the same kind of darkness. In fact, it can lead to a legacy of bitterness that has the potential to hang around a family for many generations.
We have heard it said “Do not commit adultery” but to not push the lustful thoughts aside or control a wandering gaze has the power to corrupt the heart quicker than the body. Knowing this, why wouldn't I put the needs and desires of my husband above my own so the purity of his heart remains secure as well.
And of course we can't forget the one, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven or on the earth beneath…” I am figuring out that idols aren't just about worshipping graven images but about serving two masters which we know will never really work out. Idols actually come in many forms: iPhones, a desire for an updated kitchen and dare I say it, an addiction to approval (man's not God's).
When I pray or help a friend, that is supposed to be a secret between me and God because there is a reward awaiting in me in heaven that is better than I could ever conceive of on earth (1 Corinthians 2:9). When I choose to await that reward over the applause of others that is evidence of the condition of my heart.
Speaking of rewards, when my heart is pure and I am seeking His righteousness above all, I have access to the gift of a life free from worry. If loving God is my one true purpose, I experience that He does in fact know everything I need and considers me more valuable than the birds. Now there is freedom to trust. And the Xanax-reliant world around me tells me that is a pretty big deal.
So when it comes down to the day when every knee bows and every tongue confesses, there won't be any special "password" and He isn't going to accept my list of "God-sponsored projects" (Matt 7:21-23 MSG). He will already know the heart behind every action.
Oh how I pray that He might see a heart that was created clean each day (Psalm 51:10) and accept me in with the only applause that matters, the long-awaited applause of heaven.