7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. 9 Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor (NLT).The part that stood out to me was the exhortation by James to purify our hearts. The question that immediately arose in my heart was; "How can I purify my heart?" In my mind this purification is only something that God can do.
Almost as soon as I thought the question the answer appeared before: we must be loyal to God. James implies that the reason our hearts need to be purified is because our loyalty is divided. We are not totally loyal to God, instead our hearts also chase after the things of this world. For us to purify our hearts requires us be exclusively loyal to God.
This dovetails with what I read in Not a Fan this morning. Kyle Idleman focused on the phrase "come after me" that is found in Luke 9:23. He pointed out that the best way to understand that phrase is to observe the way a person pursues a romantic relationship. True romance requires a person whose heart is not divided, but is solely focused on his/her love.
He points out that this passion is seen in the parable of the pearl of great price:
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!" (Matthew 13:45-46, NLT).Once the man discovered the great pearl his heart was set on pursuing it, there is nothing that would distract him for obtaining it. Kyle goes on to write:
"When we discover the life that we can have in Jesus we are to come after him like this man pursued this pearl of great price. Fans will be careful not to get carried away. Followers understand that following Jesus is a pursuit that may cost them everything, but it is the best investment they could ever make. Followers will do some crazy things for love, but fans want to play it safe" (p. 133).In order to purify hour hearts then we need to have such a focus on following Jesus that we will not be distracted by the things of this world. This intense focus will cause us to do things that will appear crazy, but in the end will be the best way to live. When we are so loyal to Jesus then our hearts cease to be divided, and thus they are able to be healed. To passionately pursue Jesus is what we can do so that our hearts can be purified.