walk in the word
Category: Spiritual Life
Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart. Hebrews 3:7
I had heart surgery this week. Not the blood-pumping, valve-oriented, physical kind, but my soul went under the scalpel.
The Bible calls our soul the heart; we know that it’s made up of our mind, emotions, and will. The heart is the center of our being, the part that will live for eternity. It’s our heart that relates to God; it’s from our hearts that we worship and pray.
So this week I went under the living and active knife that pierces the soul and judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). The passage I was looking at was Mark 4:3-9. Some people call this passage the parable of the sower, but more correctly it’s the parable of the soils. The emphasis is not the person scattering the seed, but the different kind of soils that the seed finds. This parable is about one thing—how the Word of God intersects a person’s heart.
For the sake of our time and space here in the Weekly Walk, we will only get to the first of the four soils. I encourage you to listen to the broadcast or get a copy of the message, “The Servant Examines the Heart” and find yourself in Jesus’ parable. I found myself—I guarantee you’re there too.
As Jesus breaks down the parable, He explains the first soil as the hard heart. “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown. And when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them”(Mark 4:15).Maybe you can relate to this, “I read God’s Word and an hour later I can’t remember what it said. I go to church and the Word of God is sown into my heart but I hardly get out of the parking lot and I can’t remember what it was about.” Diagnosis: you have a hard heart. The soil is so dry and packed down that as soon as the seed is sown, the enemy snatches it away.
“But how did this happen? How did my heart get so hard?” Consider these four ways.
The first way to harden your heart is to run. If when you feel convicted by God’s Word you say, “I don’t want this” and shut the Bible or flick off the radio or walk out of the meeting—you’re running.
Another way to harden your heart is to deny what you hear. I’m amazed at people who week after week sit under the truth at our church yet dismiss it as “for somebody else” or “I don’t need that.” How many times have they heard Jesus is the only way to eternal life—yet deny it for themselves?
Or is this you—you know that God is all about forgiving people who hurt you, but you refuse to. Instead you carry around a bag of bitterness, denying or rationalizing why God’s command doesn’t apply to you. When your heart gets hard, the Word can’t penetrate.
Maybe your heart is distracted. You hear God’s Word but you think about someone else who needs it instead.
Do you remember in John 21:15ff when Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” Peter responds, “Lord, You know I love You.” Then Jesus reloads two more times and questions, “Peter, do you love me?” And Peter’s like, “Lord, You know everything. You know I love You.” What’s interesting is what Peter did next (v. 20). He turned, looked at John, and said, “Lord, what about this man?” This is too convicting. I don’t want to think about my own life; what about him? I love Jesus’ response. In essence, Forget about him. Get your eyes off other people and get your eyes on Me. You follow Me. How clearer could it be? Yet like Peter, we too get distracted.
But here’s what concerns me the most: the fourth way that we harden our hearts is by apathy. You say “amen” in church or “Yes, pastor, what you’re teaching is true and we really need to hear it” but then go out and do nothing about it. That’s apathy and nothing will harden your heart faster. Nothing. Some think, “Well, God will stir my heart next week.” Maybe. Or maybe not. That’s why “Today, if you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart”(Hebrews 3:7).
So how soft is the soil of your heart toward God? How willing are you to receive truth and sort through whatever you have to in order to get to the parts that God would say to you? The test is how you respond to truth.
So if your heart is open, I encourage you now to do a self-exam. Ask God to show you your heart condition and give you insight into how you might grow and change and be all that God has created and called you to be. This kind of heart surgery brings healing and life.
And when He begins to reveal the areas where you need to change, don’t run or dismiss it, don’t get distracted or apathetic. Receive the seed of God’s truth and let it sink down in the soft soil of a tender heart toward God.
If you don’t, nothing good is going to grow out of your life. But if you do . . . there’s incredible fruit on the way.
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