“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
“Today when you hear His voice, don’t harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7b (NLT)
We’ve increasingly become more heart-conscious today. It’s a good thing and causes me to consider what I’m eating more than ever before. Is it heart healthy? Will it increase my cholesterol? What’s the fat content? We read all the labels and try our best to make the wise decisions for ourselves and the ones we love.
But, beyond the physical condition of our heart, there is a much deeper issue. Maybe it’s not what you are eating that’s having the worst impact on your heart, but what’s eating you! How can you guard your heart from hardening? I used to think that a hard heart was something only people without God suffered from. Pharaoh certainly had a hard heart against God and the people of God in Moses’ day. Israel even suffered from hardness of heart and lived forty years in the desert because of it. The religious leaders that rejected Christ specialized in it and missed their Messiah. Jesus even told His disciples that they had hard hearts when they forgot the miracles He had done. The truth is none of us are immune to our hearts becoming hard and calloused. The older I get, the more intentional I must be in keeping my heart tender and open to God and others.
If we are going to guard our hearts and keep them healthy, we must know the warning signs of a hard heart. Recently, I came across a list that Pastor Carey Nieuwhof put together that describe the warning signs of an unhealthy heart:
- You don’t really celebrate and you don’t really cry.
- You stop genuinely caring.
- So much of what’s supposed to be meaningful feels mechanical. From your personal friendships to your family, to work, the feeling’s gone.
- Passion is hard to come by. For anything.
- You no longer believe the best about people. Even when you meet someone, you’re thinking about what’s going to go wrong, not what’s going to go right.
These symptoms are subtle and almost imperceptible at first. Left unchecked, they can lead to a hard heart where you no longer hear from God and lose your passion for life. If you recognize any of these symptoms, it’s time to act. Acknowledge it to God and ask Him to soften your heart. Listen to what He says and respond. Take time in prayer this week to give yourself a heart check-up. Let God revive your heart and restore the joy in your relationship with Him and others.