Thursday, December 15, 2005

Hardness of heart

Two passages came to the surface today. Sometimes the Scriptures seem to work like a fortune-telling eight-ball for me. (Our pastor will certainly shudder at that thought!) Anyway, the theme is the hardness of our hearts. Not a pretty sight, and perhaps not encouraging either, unless you are the kind of person that tends to take a lesson from another's struggles. We certainly don't delight in seeing them, but they can well be used for our learning and benefit. Even better is the one who can recognize his own problems and find the help needed.

When asked by his disciples in Matthew chapter 19 why Moses allowed for divorce, Jesus reminded them that that was not the original plan. But "because of the hardness of your hearts", he permitted the putting away, but only in cases of unfaithfulness during the time of betrothal prior to the wedding. The point here is not nit-picking over right and wrong divorce scenarios, but a look at the sad cause of marriage break-ups in the first place, the hardness of our hearts.

In Romans chapter 9 Pharoah is mentioned as an example of one whose heart had become calloused. As he continued to resist the Lord, God began to harden his heart to the detriment of both his family and the entire nation. The more he insisted on defying the Lord, the worse matters became. Layer upon layer of self-willed resistance becomes a thick wall which eventually chokes out all life. Ten times Pharoah had opportunity to repent, but he refused. Nevertheless he did play his part in the ultimate plan of God for his people.

I Corinthians chapter 10 reminds us of the consequences of resisting God. Ignoring God, the people had fallen into evil pursuits, idolatry, immorality, and murmering. At the end of the day 23,000 had died. We are warned in Hebrews chapter 3 about the consequences of rebellion. "Harden not your hearts, as in the day of temptation in the wilderness. . . but exhort one another daily lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

It must be added that the new nature does not get hardened. The inner man is renewed daily and has all the resurrection power necessary to break down any obstacle. It is the old sinful nature that can become hardened, deceiving and blinding. Hebrews 3:14 says that "we are made partakers of Christ." Christ is never hardened. So it is for the new nature. Let us exhort one another daily lest the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts for other things draw away our hearts. In addition to severly limiting our potential, it damages others, especially those closest to us.

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