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Thursday, December 20, 2001

Mary: Purity of Heart
In the midst of this season of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the coming of our Lord Jesus and his miraculous incarnation as a helpless baby some 2001 years ago, it is also worth considering the remarkable woman who was chosen to be His mother, Mary. Though the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ birth by Matthew and Luke give us few details about either Mary or her parents, what information we do have about her reveals a woman with tremendous strength of character-one who accepted the task that God gave her willingly and with a sense of awe and great humility. In their new book, A Different Kind of Strength, Mrs. Beverly LaHaye and Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse make the following observations about Mary’s character:

In ancient times St. Augustine of Hippo offered the intriguing idea that Mary first conceived Christ in her heart by faith before conceiving Him in her womb. The heart, of course, is the source of who we are. Only God knows our hearts-our inward thoughts and feelings. Scripture reminds us that, “Man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 RSV). Doubtless, as God looked for the virgin who could give birth to the Son of God and nurture Him as the Son of Man, He looked for someone with a pure heart.

In common parlance, the word “pure” means to be free of dirt and foreign matter. It can also mean to be clean and free of filth and iniquity. Either meaning carries the implication that nothing is in the mix that shouldn’t be there. In the beatitudes, God says that those who are pure in heart-pure, not just on the surface, but all the way through to the depths of their hearts-are blessed. He found that kind of single-minded devotion in Mary, the mother of Jesus. While Scripture does not deify Mary, she was unusually worthy of honor and respect. The fact that she was chosen for this awesome responsibility means that her devotion to God and the purity of her attitudes and behaviors are an example that we should study and emulate.

At first glance, God’s choice of Mary seems an odd one. She was young. She had not had much time to mature-to gain experience and develop wisdom. She was from humble circumstances. Mary lived a very ordinary life in common surroundings. A closer look, though, reveals that Mary had the qualities of heart and spirit that made her ideal for the high honor and calling to be the mother of Jesus. The pure in heart, we are told, desire God’s presence in their lives. They have heard and understood the words of the psalmist: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false.” Their response with David is, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 23:3,4 RSV; Ps. 51:10 KJV).

We at the Beverly LaHaye Institute wish you and yours a Christmas and New Year full of God’s greatest blessings, especially the blessing of the knowledge of Christ, His Son.

Read reviews of A Different Kind of Strength (Harvest House, 2001) from a broad spectrum of women from around the nation and order a few copies as gifts! The book, now ready for the second printing, is also available at most bookstores.

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