Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded.”
– James

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” 
– Jesus

And speaking of Kierkegaard….

glowing-heartThat last quote about the seasons of life comes from his “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing.”  I read a couple of chapters from it a few weeks ago.  Why can’t I read whole books anymore?  Probably because I spend so much time on the mind-altering electronic drug we call the Internet.

But in the book, Kierkegaard explores James 4:8, which links an impure heart to “double-mindedness.”  What Kierkegaard seems to take this to mean is that when our hearts are impure, our motives are always multiple.

I try to be nice to the people that rent rooms in my house.  Am I doing this because I care about them or because I don’t want to go through the hassle of finding somebody new to fill a spot?  I go to a party and mingle.  Am I doing this because I want to catch up with old friends and acquaintances and really know how they are, or am I more worried about how I come off to the people around me?  Maybe I just want to be seen as impressive in some way.  I give money to a charity.  Am I doing this because I think it’s a worthwhile cause, or do I just want to ease an unsettled conscience?

Why do we do what we do?  Our motives are a guessing game, even to ourselves in our most introspective moments.  I don’t know the mixture of motives that lie beneath the surface of why I act a certain way around my roommates, go to a particular party, or give money to a charity.  But, although I wish it were otherwise, I know they are “double.”  I know that at least part of my reason for doing all of the things I do is an unhealthy self-interest. A desire to look out for my own good above the good of others.  And most of the time, more specifically, a desire to feed my Ego.  Pride.

For Kierkegaard, purity of heat is to will one thing: “the good.”  Purity of heart is to give up seeking your own benefit over the benefit of others.  To lose your ego to the point that you literally do not will anything for yourself, but only the good of the world.   Kierkey might say that your will and God’s will become one.  That is purity of heart, and the pure of heart will see God.

But is it just an idealistic dream that this can be achieved?

I honestly don’t know.

“Oh, Thou that givest both the beginning and the completion, give Thou victory in the day of need so that neither a man’s burning wish nor his determined resolution may attain to, may be granted unto him in the sorrowing of repentance: to will only one thing.”