Have you ever had time where someone really upset you, and you let your mouth run away with you in retaliation? Have you ever had to fight self-justification over something you really shouldn’t have done? Have you been severely hurt by someone close to you and find it hard to let it go? Do you find it hard to forgive or ask for forgiveness?
I remember when an individual really ticked me off. Uncharacteristically I did not walk away, and I made a statement I should not have made. Now, being human, my first thought was to try and justify my words because the instigator’s actions were wrong. You know the old, “if they hadn’t done this then I wouldn’t have said/done that.” I had to admit the truth of the matter which is, while we may have a right to our anger when being treated unfairly, we do not have the right to do the wrong thing (Ephesians 4:26). No matter what another person may say or do, we are responsible to GOD for our own actions; He is not going to ask us what the other person did, He is going to deal with what we did. Therefore, I repented for my actions and asked God for the opportunity to apologize. As soon as that opportunity came available, I apologized because I was wrong; I had to keep my own heart clear and right with God.
In similar situations I know others who take the stance of, “I didn’t do anything wrong!” Instead of taking the humble path, they allow pride to rule and take the path of self-righteousness – justifying themselves in their own mind and heart. They feel right in their words and actions because of the words and actions of another. Instant walls go up when trying to explain to them why we can’t be that way and follow God. The issues they have allowed to take root and fester in their hearts cause them to instantly burst into fits of seething rage over the tiniest things. They are easily offended and look at nearly everyone through skeptical eyes; everyone is painted with the same brush as the one(s) who wounded them.
The hardness that I have seen in these individuals hurts my heart. Knowing them and the wounds they have received at the hands of those close to them (either real or imaginary), I was pained to see just how hard they have actually allowed themselves to become. Watching and listening to them provided a clear example of what it means to be unyielding, unforgiving, and callous. Let me tell ya, it is doubly painful to witness in a Christian.
Sometimes we can see the problems in everyone around us, when what we really need is a good long look in the mirror! Sometimes we can find so many faults with others and fail to recognize that we exhibit those same areas of weakness. We see others as mean and nasty, but I wonder how we would feel if forced to take a good hard look at ourselves and the message we send to others through our words and actions.
A Glimpse In The Mirror
- Cruel; pitiless; merciless; unfeeling; inhuman; inexorable. (Websters 1828 Dictionary, emphasis added)
- Having or showing NO kindness or sympathy for other people (Merriam-Webster, emphasis added)
When looking at the definition of hardhearted I question myself. Am I cruel? Am I without pity for others? Am I merciless? Am I Unfeeling (unsympathetic and cold)? How would loved ones describe my treatment of them? How would they describe my actions if they were to get on my nerves or do something I just did not like? Am I hardhearted? When you look at the above definitions in regards to yourself, what do you see?
I believe that we have all had an opportunity to exhibit a hard heart at one time or another. It is all too easy a trap to fall into, especially when we have been severely mistreated, misused, abused, or even misunderstood. Sometimes we can endure such deep pain and suffering at the hands of another that it becomes difficult to truly forgive; therefore, we stuff it away, smooth it over, and act like all is well. It is at times like these that we fail to realize that our heart is hardening. If we don’t make the right decision our hearts will indeed harden towards people and, detrimentally so, to God and His word. If we have allowed our hearts to harden (little or much) we do not have to stay in that condition. There is hope!
HOPE FOR THE HARD OF HEART
We do not have to continue drifting through life with this heart condition. There is a path we can take to return to the land of the living; the land of feeling, of love and compassion for others – the land of joy. If we have determined to remove the armor around our hearts, these are the following steps we should take.
- Ask God to Search Your Heart: God can see what we cannot, and He can reveal things in our heart that we may never have noticed were there; i.e bitterness, unforgiveness, resentment etc….
- Ask God to Fix Your Heart: Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10 KJV)
Now– if we really want change–there are actions we must take on our journey to a softened heart.
- Develop the habit of a DAILY fill up of the Word of God: Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119:8-11;
- Develop the habit of Consistent Daily Prayer: Pouring our hearts out to God helps us release those things that can cause a hard heart. Colossians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18; Psalm 55:16-18; Ephesian 6:18
- Yield to the Holy Spirit: Galatians 5:16; 5:17-26; Ephesians 3:16-19; Ephesians 5:9-11
- Spend time with Spiritually Mature, God-loving people: These are people who can encourage you on your journey to a soft heart. They are individuals you can trust, who will tell you the truth, and hold you accountable. Proverbs 11:14; Prov 24:6, Prov 21:30; Prov 27:9,
- Count Your Blessings! Thinking about the blessings of God makes it hard to hold on to complaints, anger, etc… Thinking about his goodness, forgiveness, etc… towards you makes it hard to hold on to unforgiveness, and the like, towards others.
Remember, in this life offenses will come, but we can’t allow it to harden our hearts. Guard your heart, it is too valuable to leave open to satan’s devices. Keep your heart free and pure before God, don’t allow anything negative to take root, continue the above survival strategy, and you will maintain the soft heart you have or have worked to achieve.
Let’s here some chatter out there!
Have you ever dealt with a hard heart?
Have you overcome?
What are some things that helped you develop a softened heart?
Until next time,