Blessed… 99 44/100% Pure

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8, New Revised Standard Version).

It’s been their claim to fame for more than 100 years, “99 and 44/100% pure.” Ivory Soap is coming up on its 200th anniversary, first around in 1840 and sold under the name “Ivorine” and later sold to Proctor and Gamble who began selling the soap under a new name, “Ivory.” The slogan itself began after Harley Proctor hired an independent laboratory to analyze the soap in 1895.

As marketing campaigns go, the slogan sounds really good. To be honest, it does make me wonder what the 56/100% is that is not “pure.” Whatever that small portion is might keep some of us from ever wanting to use Ivory again.

We often think that a product like Ivory is great. It is so close to being pure and yet there is something there that isn’t quite right. Several years ago there was an urban legend floating around that McDonald’s used beef products in their “100% beef patties.” While not at all true, it did cause some folks to shy away from the world’s most popular hamburger.

The bottom line is, if it’s not 100 percent pure, do we really want to eat it? Most of us would say no. A scene from the movie/book, The Help featuring brownies with a special ingredient comes to mind.

So, if I am 99 and 44/100% pure in heart, is that good enough for me to see God as the Beatitude above suggests? Well, the answer isn’t as simple as the question might make it seem. That is because Matthew doesn’t say to us anything about being 100 percent pure or what fraction of purity is actually acceptable for us to see God.

Some 30 or more years ago I worked with a woman who believed she was a good person, and I would say in general she was and that she would be acceptable to God. I would answer that she is, but not because of herself. Pure in heart, at least the way I read it, is pure in heart. Mostly pure, just like those brownies in The Help isn’t good enough. Being pure isn’t even Ivory Soap good. We need more. So no, in and of ourselves, we aren’t good enough to see God because none of us are truly pure in heart.

That is the bad news. But, there is also good news. God loves us and wants a relationship with us enough to give us more than we deserve. For we who desire a real relationship with God, there is the free gift of grace. God takes whatever part of us isn’t pure and through grace makes us fully pure. Then, because we are truly pure in heart, we can see God. I can’t think of better news for any of us than that.

What is keeping you from being pure in heart and would prevent you from seeing God? Accept the free gift of grace. God offers it to each of us.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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