Avoiding hardheartedness

Published 3:53 pm Friday, January 25, 2019

few minutes ago before I sat at the keyboard to pen these words, our youngest daughter stopped by our house for a few minutes.  Her fifteen months old was in the backseat and I could not pass up the opportunity to go out in the cold and spend a little time with her.  As Raegan sat in the warm car and I endured the cold as I stood outside, I was greeted by her huge smile that displayed a near full set of pearly white teeth.  Her tender little heart was filled with joy because she was at Papa’s house.

Sadly, hearts do not always remain tender; they can become calloused and hard.  That brings to mind an old fellow that I visited years ago.  He was in a care facility in the closing days of his life.  I had talked to him previously and he had shared some things with me about his relationship with his daughter and his former wife.  On one occasion not too long before he died, I asked him if there was something that he would like to do before his life ended.  I was hoping for an answer that would demonstrate that he had a new outlook on what was left of his life.  It was pretty encouraging when he began by stating that he would like to go to his wife’s grave, but as he elaborated on his reason for wanting to go there the pitiful condition of his heart was too evident.  There was no sign that he desired to have a forgiving attitude.  It seemed that his heart had become cold and hard.  I am not his judge and I am grateful that I am not, but it is frightening to think of anyone leaving this life filled with the magnitude of bitterness and hardness that he expressed.

We all need to be watchful of our hearts to make sure that we do not allow the condition of hard heartedness to overtake us.  The possibility of that happening is real and Scripture is not silent on the issue.

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In Psalm 95 the writer refers to a time among the Jewish people when they allowed their hearts to become hardened through unbelief and rebellion.  The writer warns:  “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert” (verse 8, New International Version).  He was referring to the time when God’s people were wandering in the wilderness on their forty year journey to the Promised Land.  Through doubt and rebellion their hearts became hard spiritually, and that condition came at a high price for them.  As one commentator wrote, “Instead of having hearts softened by the unspeakable power and glory of God and overwhelmed by His goodness and mercy toward them, they grew numb toward Him.”

In the New Testament, the writer of the Book of Hebrews issues warnings and urged his recipients (which includes us today) to carefully guard against developing hard hearts:  “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.  But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

Avoid hardheartedness by steering far away from sin and turning passionately toward the living God.  Let Him give you a smiling and tender heart like Raegan greeted me with tonight.