Loving the hardened heart
Each one of us has been in a season of life or a distant place where our heart was hardened to the things of God. Perhaps we wanted nothing to do with God, nor believed that He loved us individually, nor cared whether He did or not. There might be moments of doubt when we entertain the idea that maybe there is no God. But even when we denied Him, and continued in our life of self, He knew and loved us each intimately. With our stiffened core cold to the things of God, His heart was warm to us because He deeply loves.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
The beauty of our heart is that even when it is spiritually hardened, it never stops physically beating because it is a flexible muscle. It is at work 24/7 with the sole purpose of pumping life-giving oxygen-rich blood throughout our body. It knows what its job is. God has designed our heart to keep on going, like the Energizer Bunny, until the day He says “Time is up; stop pumping.” This flexibility of hearts allows for it to pump slowly while at rest, to pump much faster while exercising, all the while maintaining a regular beat that continues our life.
In our lives, when things don’t go our way, we complain and blame God. We yell at God, some curse God, all because we believe that life should go a certain way; our way. If it doesn’t, then surely it’s not because of anything we’ve done wrong, but because God didn’t listen to our prayer, nor care enough to answer it the way we asked it to be answered. To think this way implies that it is our way or the highway; that God is not always good, and that God is not personally involved. Both ways of thinking are 180 degrees from the truth.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
1 John 4:10
Jesus had a soft spot in his heart for mankind, which includes you and me, so much that He lived as one of us and died horribly in our stead, yet did so because of his great passion for humanity; especially for those whom He knew would choose to follow Him.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
When those we deeply love do not know our Lord and Savior nor accept his free gift of eternal life, there is a division, a separation between us. We will always love them, but to know that one day we will be eternally separated from them is like wearing a wet, heavy wool coat while swimming in the ocean. It is a very heavy burden. So how do we stay afloat and not get dragged down when those we love are like a rock tossed into the sea?
Persistent and excellent love is:
patient, kind, gentle, honest, sacrificial, generous, forgiving, merciful, serving, selfless, gracious, present.
Blessed is the one who fears the Lord always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.
We see those with calloused, hardened hearts and they are oblivious to the fact that they are “sinking in the deep with no foothold” (thank you Russ Taff for these lyrics), and we want so desperately to shake them, to wake them up, and grab hold of their hand, lifting them up from the abyss! In a way, that is exactly what we need to do. To love them though through this time of indecision or their doubt requires persistent and excellent love on our part.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Jesus showed all of these acts of genuine love by healing those that would harden their hearts to Him later, by forgiving those that tortured him, and by feeding the masses who were hungry in spirit. You could say that He purposefully loved the hard hearted by being soft hearted to their needs.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you….You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
John 15:12, 16-17
The greatest gift of love you can give to an unbeliever is to earnestly pray for them regularly!
Food for thought: Your mission here on earth, should you choose to accept it, is to love your neighbor as yourself, no matter how unlovable they are, and love God with all your heart. He loved you when your heart was hardened and ugly towards Him, so in turn, love those who have not yet looked to Jesus for salvation.
Fun facts: The simile ‘hard as a rock’ was first recorded as a phrase in the early 1700’s. One way to break up rock is to hammer away in the same spot, and using a wedge which will split the rock at that weakened point. Another way is to use the heat of fire, then cold water. Watch out though – it may explode!
Photo by: Kari Wiseman – Loving the Hardened Heart