“Removing the Heart of Stone”
One of the symptoms of a heart of stone is a loss of compassion. One of the earmarks of our faith is the compassion that we should have for other people. There have been times in my life where I know I have been stone hearted to the sick and the sinner. There have been times that I have passed by people that were in need of love and compassion, and I walked by unmoved. I have had periods in life where my heart was stone. Perhaps you can identify with me here. How do you feel when you see a person that cannot afford to buy their own food? Do you think to yourself that they are getting what they deserve, or that they should get a job and stop asking for handouts? The truth is, that is not how we have been called to view people and that is not how Jesus viewed people. Sometimes I respond like that, but that is revealing of a stone heart. Sometimes I am more zealous for justice to be served and people to get what they deserve than I am for people to receive grace and mercy. That is indicative of a stone heart. Perhaps some of you can identify with me. How do you feel when you learn that a brother or sister in Christ is living in sin? Do you respond hoping that judgment will be served on them? Perhaps today you have lost your sense of compassion on the hurting. How do you respond to sinner’s coming to Christ? Do you think that you’ll have to wait around for this person to be dunked? Do you still have a passion for what is going on around the world? Our hearts should break over the very things that break the heart of God and we should be moved to action.
As Christians we are in the process of being changed and transformed into the image of God. Over time, however, many loose their desire to continue to grow in their faith and to do God’s will. It is when we stop growing and stop caring to grow that we can tell that our hearts have become callused. Often times it is our own conscious choices which create opportunities for our own spiritual maturity. When we stop caring to create those opportunities we know that our hearts are hardening.
The Dictionary defines apathy as a lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference. A lack of emotion or feeling.
Another way to diagnose a stone heart is when one looses excitement in the work of God. Christians should be excited about hearing stories of victory in the kingdom, of souls be saved, of lived being changed. Christians should be excited to serve God and to be used by Him. Perhaps today you can diagnose a heart of stone. Please know that softening your heart begins by slowly chiseling away at a stone heart.
One thing that will harden a person’s heart faster than anything else is the continued practice of sin. Despite what many people will tell you, it really does matter what you do and how you act. Sin is unique in that it usually leads to more. Usually sin starts out with something small and grows and matures into something bigger. There is an old saying that says:
Sow a thought reap a deed
Sow a deed reap a habit
Sow a habit reap a judgment
The reality is that we are all sinners. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but the Scripture makes a clear separation between sinning and the continued practice of sin. Sin is just a part of life, it is not justified and sin is wrong, and we need to strive to avoid sin, but it is the continued practice of sin, or a sinful lifestyle that hardens the heart. Perhaps today you have stayed coming to church, but have been living in a state of sin. Perhaps it is sin that no one knows about and you have kept hidden. Perhaps you have been putting on a front and everyone thinks that you are really righteous. Let me assure you that God knows every thought and action and one day sin will be uncovered and revealed by God. Perhaps you haven’t thought it was a very big deal, but let me tell you that sin is a big deal because it violates the nature of God. The main trait that we learn about God in the Bible is not his love or grace, but rather his holiness. Sin violates the holiness of God and we with sin cannot come into God’s presence. Sin brings about the wrath of God because He is holy. Because of sin we will all encounter God’s wrath, we will face it either at judgment or we will encounter God’s wrath on the cross where Jesus bore our sin and the wrath of God. The Scripture says that God made him who knew no sin to become sin for us so that we might know the righteousness of God. Perhaps today you have been living in constant unrepented sin and haven’t thought it a big deal and you’ve thought that it was okay to sin because God will forgive you. It is sin that hardens the heart.
Our world has tried to teach us what is right and wrong. Many in the church have bought into the lie that if it is accepted by the world that it is accepted by God, but the world’s standards are not necessarily God’s standards.
I love to watch a good fire burn. To me it is really cool to watch how when you put a bunch of logs together they can make a huge flame. When I would go to camp we would make the largest fires that were possible. One thing about those fires is that when you remove one log from the group of logs, that fire soon dies out in the one removed. It is the same with us when we are away from the presence of God and His people. A lot of people put any and everything before attending church, but let me assure you one quick way to turn your heart to stone is to stay out of the church. Missing just a few times will make one calloused and hardened. The Scriptures teach that as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. The Fellowship God’s people is important and missing church, the removal from God’s presence and people hardens the heart.
Maybe today you sit here and you realize maybe your heart has turned to stone. Maybe you are wondering what you can do for your heart to be made soft again. I want to tell you that it begins by chiseling away at the stone. Many things may have come into your life and slowly hardened your heart, today you can chisel away at that heart of stone.
One of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction to people’s hearts. It was the Holy Spirit working on the hearts of the Jews on Pentecost when they said, they were pierced to the heart. Perhaps today the Spirit is working on your hearts and bringing conviction through the Word of God, if so I hope that the conviction you may feel will be taken as a message from God. People respond all sorts of ways when they feel convicted. Some people push it off and take it as nothing. Other people heed that conviction and are thankful that God has revealed to them the errors of their ways. Maybe the Spirit of God is trying to chisel away at your heart of stone.
The Word of God is one of the most powerful things that there is. It is the Word of God that is called the sword of the Spirit and is our weapon against the Devil. The Word of God tells us what it is that God expects of us. We learn right from wrong and we learn God’s standard. We can learn in His Word where we are not living up to what God expects. It is in the Word of God that we can find help for our problems, we can claim promises that God gives us, we can learn the way of chiseling away at our hearts.
The fellowship of the saints, of God’s people is one of the greatest remedies for the hard heart. There is something special about gathering in fellowship that has a away of softening the heart. If your heart is hard one of the best things you can do is consciously make a choice to be where God’s people are, find opportunities to fellowship. Today, perhaps by being with God’s people your heart is being chiseled away at.
I believe another way that our hearts are softened and chiseled away at is by being careful what we allow into our hearts. Jesus taught plainly, that t really does matter what you allow into your hearts, because that goes to your heart and eventually will come out.
Perhaps, you need to guard your heart and remove some things from your way so that you are not polluting your mind and heart. By guarding your heart and keeping yourself clear from impure things you can chisel away at your hard heart.
5. The Repentance of Sin Chisels Away at Hard Hearts
The best way to soften a hard heart is through repentance of sin. It is through repentance that we have the promise of wipping our slates clean and being made right. We have the promise of forgiveness of sins.
I John 1:9
Perhaps today your heart has become hard. I want to encourage you today to repent of that sin that had held you back from God. Repentance is not just being sorry for the sins that you have committed though, it is a change in the lifestyle for the better.