01 Nov The Symptoms of a Hard Heart
Our heart plays a significant role in how we live our lives for Christ. It’s important that our heart is in right standing with God and protected from the hardening caused by sin and complacency. We are all in danger of our hearts becoming hardened over time. When people are hardhearted toward God, it’s like they are spiritually blind and deaf—they can’t see spiritual truth or hear the Lord speak to them.
Jesus says: “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” — Ezekiel 36:26-27
God’s Word warns us against the hardening of the heart, which causes us to become insensitive to the move of God and show compassion for others. God promises to give us a “heart of flesh” when His Holy Spirit comes into us.
We are bombarded day in and day out with stressful news, political brawling, protestors, division, hatred, mass shootings, videos on Facebook of late term abortions, incredible devastating weather, racism and fighting, rampant immigration and overcrowding. It’s enough to make you crazy. People are wound so tight these days it’s unprecedented. We are inundated with social media and it’s hard to process everything our minds take in. It’s no wonder we are developing hard hearts.
Two of the biggest heart hardeners are sin and pride.
Sin causes hearts to grow hard, especially continual and unrepentant sin. Scripture makes it clear that if we relentlessly continue to engage in sin, there will come a time when God will give us over to our “debased mind” and let us have it our way.
Pride will also cause our hearts to harden. The “pride of your heart has deceived you . . . you who say to yourself, ‘who can bring me down to the ground’ . . . I will bring you down declares the LORD” (Obadiah 3).
Pride also includes arrogance, which is where you feel you are better than other people and when you think you know better than God.
So here are some of the signs that tell us we need God’s Holy Spirit to come and soften our heart:
Jeremiah 18:12 says, “But they will say, ‘It’s hopeless! For we are going to follow our own plans, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his evil heart.” When we start feeling hopeless too often, it could be a sign that sin or pride has hardened our hearts.
When our heart becomes stone and we stop feeling God’s presence, worry and anxiety start to creep in. We lose our faith and trust in God because we can no longer feel His goodness and love even though it’s so evidently there. Worry is the absence of faith.
3. Insensitivity Towards Others
A heart of flesh will remain sensitive and compassionate for other people, but a hardened heart looks only to self-interests. You no longer believe the best about people and you stop caring. You become complacent.
4. Dry Devotional Time
When you try reading your Bible and praying over and over but you just can’t seem to get refreshed. Or, you are the least bit interested in reading your Bible or praying at all, chances are your heart needs to be transformed by God’s touch. You need to stop and seek God, pray for His Holy Spirit to fill you and soften your heart back to Him.
When you ignore God and go through life on your own, you rely solely on your own strength and power and this leads to fear. You lose the assurances that come with believing in God and His ability to save you and help you. Fear is the result of the absence of a personal relationship with God.
6. Sinful Patterns
Without a personal and close relationship with Jesus, it’s easy for us to start walking in ways He would not have us walk as sinful patterns start to come into place. While we all struggle with sin, it’s getting outside the lines of conviction in your heart and you find yourself choosing sin over doing the right thing.
A heart of flesh will walk in obedience to the lordship of Jesus, but a hardened heart would rather have its own way.
This is someone who refuses to come under the authority of God. They may have a problem in general with authority of any kind and just want to go their own way. The Bible says, “If you rebel against the commandment of the Lord, the hand of the Lord will be against you” (1 Sam 12:14-15).
9. Lack of Passion
You can find yourself in a place where you don’t feel passionate about anything anymore. You are just going through the motions of a daily existence without the joy of something you love or believe in. This can be a dangerous place to be when what should be meaningful becomes mechanical. We need passion to feel alive, to keep us interested and engaged in life.
10. You over-protect your broken heart
People promise and don’t deliver. Your hopes were bigger than what really happened. You trusted someone and they betrayed you. You loved someone and they hurt you. Really, that’s just life. It happens to everyone. It’s how you respond that is so critical. It’s easy to shield yourself from people. It’s easy to stop trusting, stop loving, stop believing, put up walls. But that would be a mistake. It stops your heart in its tracks and you find yourself stuck.
Bitter envy makes you hate people. Instead of celebrating our differences, or being happy at someone else’s success, you find yourself hoping people fail or find joy when they experience misery. If you find yourself in this position, you are dangerously lacking in love. It’s easy to focus on people’s flaws and shortcomings. You become critical and cynical. If you keep that up, it will be all you focus on. You must try to be happy for people and share in their joy.
One surefire way to tell that your heart is hard is that you just can’t bring yourself to talk to anyone about anything of substance. When someone brings up a topic that hits a sensitive spot, you shut that conversation down immediately. You push people away and live in denial of your situation. You have built walls a mile high. It’s normal to have areas in our lives that we’re not comfortable facing, but it’s another thing entirely if it leads to isolation and a complete lock down of anyone trying to come close.
One of the scariest indicators of a hard heart is that you just don’t care anymore about anyone or anything. This is the end result of someone who has accepted their hard heart, given in to a life of sin and self-satisfaction. Typically when we do things that violate our conscience, we feel a sense of shame or guilt, and that’s should drive us back to God. But, when you lose sight of those warning indicators, that’s when you’re in trouble. You examine your life and see sin, but feel nothing about it. Instead of alarm, fear or even anger, you feel nothing. Just apathy. The aftermath of this condition is: a loss of sensitivity, surrendering to sensuality, and indulgence in all things impure. And it’s insatiable, meaning things will only get worse. This is a hard spot to come back from.
You have to understand that just as hard as God works to keep you in His fold, the devil is working just as hard to pull you away. If you go through life without realizing and feeling the spiritual battle that is taking place over your head, you need to wake up.
One of the benefits of understanding what causes hardheartedness is that you can reverse the process and use it to become hardened against the devil. This is absolutely true. You have the power to determine what your heart accepts or rejects.
Be Vulnerable. Let people know what’s going on with you, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. Try starting with one close friend, or a family member, and then move on from there. You’ll like life a lot better when you can open up and let people in.
Be Humble. Swallow your pride for a bit. Practice the ‘more of God and less of me’ philosophy. Try catching yourself the next time you realize you don’t want someone’s opinion, and decide to listen to what they have to say instead. Put other people first for a change and ask God for a servants heart.
Be Honest. Stop lying to others about things that are going on with you. Be honest with them about how you feel, what has happened, and how it has affected you. Honesty will heal your heart and help you to open up and trust again.
Love. Romans 12:21 says is best: “overcome evil with good.” The Bible talks a lot about repentance, because it involves actively turning away from the life we’ve been living and becoming more like God, who is love incarnate. By focusing on how to reconcile relationships and give your heart to people, you’ll reverse the course of your life and become someone who can feel again, and love the people closest to you in life.
Pray. “Search me O God, and know my heart…see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23–24). God can heal any heart once we recognize our disobedience and repent of our sins.
Do not accept a hard heart as the new normal. A hardened heart isn’t inevitable, but it does take intentional effort to guard against one. When you feel your heart becoming hard, you need to take action and fight against it. If you work at it, your heart can stay supple. When you pick away at the callouses on your heart, something wonderful God created still beats underneath. You can enter a new season of life wiser, happier, passionate and very much fully alive.