In focusing on the ways in which our true priorities are revealed, it is useful to consider the simple fact that what we allow to influence us establishes or declares our true priorities, whatever we might say they are.
A spiritual principle: “ ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God’ ” (Matt. 5:8, NKJV).
- Liquids without mixtures (for example, milk unadulterated with water)
- Things like metals without alloys
- An army without defectors
- Grain that has been sifted and cleansed of waste materials
- A person free of debt
- An animal without blemish or defect
“Purity of heart is to will one thing” (Soren Kierkegaard).
Jesus is quoting from Psalm 24: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation” (vv. 3-5).
“Pure in heart” =
What do you think? What are your obstacles to spiritual focus?
A Story of Spiritual Focus: Enoch
“When Enoch was 65 years old, he became the father of Methuselah. After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch lived in close fellowship with God for another 300 years, and he had other sons and daughters. Enoch lived 365 years, walking in close fellowship with God. Then one day he disappeared, because God took him” (Gen. 5:21-24, NLT).
Enoch’s Life Realities: (1) family obligations as a father and husband; (2) evil environment.
Enoch’s Spiritual Strategy
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:5, 6, NIV).
List Enoch’s four-step spiritual strategy:
A Jewish Tradition: Mezuzah
On the right side of every Jewish doorpost is nailed a small piece of parchment rolled and inserted into a wood, metal, stone, or ceramic case called a mezuzah. One the front of the parchment are lettered the twenty-two lines of the Shema—the Hebrew prayer from the Torah about God being the only God and that they will worship God with all their heart, mind, soul and body. The Hebrew word Shaddai (God Almighty) is inscribed on the back in such a way that it can be seen from the outside. As people go in and out the door, they touch the mezuzah, sometimes then touching their lips in a “kiss,” as a visible way of remembering what they want to focus their lives on.
This mezuzah was a ritual code that said to everyone entering and leaving that home: “As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” This touching of the mezuzah and saying this prayer were regular reminders of who they belonged to and what place they wanted God to occupy in their lives.
Questions to Help You Evaluate Your Spiritual Focus
- What are the greatest distractions in your life that keep you from focusing on God?
- What occupies your attention the most?
- What are those issues or things that steal your heart away from the most important?
- What are the urgencies that you pay more attention to than the significant?
- What might be some ways you could “mezuzah” your world—build reminders into your life that keep you focused on your spiritual existence, on God?
- How might you use your meaningful relationships to be a spiritual discipline, a way of remembering God?
- How might you structure time into your schedule to pay attention to God (in both your daily schedule and long term calendar)?*