Hard Hearts

Your physical heart is one of the most important organs in your body.  The heart pumps blood containing oxygen and nutrients to every part of your body.  If your physical heart is diseased, your physical activity is limited. If your heart fails to function, then you die.  The Bible makes multiple references to the spiritual heart which is the center of our spiritual nature.  The health of our spiritual heart determines the health of our spiritual nature. Jesus described people as having hard hearts. Something hard is inflexible, unyielding and insensitive.  A hard heart would therefore be unyielding, inflexible and closed. A soft heart is sensitive and open to whatever God wishes to show us.

Mark 10:2-5 “The Pharisees came and asked Him, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?’ testing Him. And He answered and said to them, ‘What did Moses command you?’ They said, ‘Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to dismiss her.’ And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Because of the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.’” Moses permitted husbands to divorce their wives because their hearts were hard.  The wives would have some flaw, as we all have flaws.  But the husband would not have compassion or show mercy because he had a hard heart. He did not love or forgive his wife and therefore he gave her a divorce.  In this case, a hard heart is demonstrated by a lack of compassion, mercy and forgiveness.  In a similar way, we can see our brother or sister have a need but have a hard heart toward them and not give them help.  I encourage you to have a soft heart and be willing to forgive and have mercy. Be compassionate to others who have needs.

Let us consider a somewhat different kind of hard heart.  God had sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh with a request to let the Israelites leave Egypt.  Moses and Aaron would perform a sign or cause a plague to come upon the land to convince Pharaoh that their request came from God. Each time, Pharaoh would harden his heart and refuse to let them go.  The Israelites were slaves to Pharaoh and were performing work for him; he didn’t want to lose this large workforce and end his work projects.  Moses warned Pharaoh what was going to happen before each plague and when the plague came, just as Moses had warned, it certainly proved that the plague was a result of the power of God.  But Pharaoh didn’t want to submit to God and didn’t want to lose the slave workforce, so each time he hardened his heart. Pharaoh hardened his heart and didn’t want to listen to God and accept His message because it was more important for him to keep the Israelites enslaved.  People today also reject the message of God because something else is more important to them.

Consider this incident with Jesus and His disciples in Mark 8:14-21 “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat. Then He charged them, saying, ‘Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.’ And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘It is because we have no bread.’ But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, ‘Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened?  Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ They said to Him, ‘Twelve.’ ‘Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?’ And they said, ‘Seven.’ So He said to them, ‘How is it you do not understand?’”  Even the disciples of Jesus had a form of hard heartedness at this time.  They did not perceive or understand.  They had eyes but did not see. They had ears but didn’t hear.  They did not remember.  Jesus had previously used five loaves to feed five thousand and seven loaves to feed four thousand. He could easily have used the one loaf that the disciples had in the boat to feed all of the disciples.  They had seen the miracles of Jesus.  They knew he had the power of God.  But somehow they still didn’t perceive and understand.  Their hearts were hard.  People today have hard hearts in that they refuse to understanding and accept God’s spiritual truths. 

Or consider another incident during the ministry of Jesus.  Mark 3:1-6 “And He entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. So they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand, ‘Step forward.’ Then He said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to kill?’ But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him, how they might destroy Him.”  Jesus performed a mighty miracle by restoring the withered hand for the man.  The Pharisees knew this was a demonstration of the power of God, but they had hard hearts and refused to accept Jesus because they believed that He had violated their Sabbath law.  They were ready to destroy Him.

Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when He said in Matthew 13:15 “For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, so that I should heal them.”  A person has a hard heart when they don’t perceive and understand the power of God and accept and act upon the truth that He has given to us.  Some people today have closed their eyes and ears so that they might not understand with their spiritual hearts and turn and receive God’s salvation.

There appear to be several kinds of hard hearts.  We can have a hard heart if we do not have the proper love, compassion and forgiveness.  We can also have hard hearts if we refuse to understand and accept the spiritual truths that God has given.  Is there some area in your life where your heart is hard?  I encourage you to have a soft heart.

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