I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh.
— Ezekiel 11:19 (AMPC)
According to John 10:10, God’s desire is for us to enjoy an abundant life—a life of peace, joy, purpose, and above all, love. When we have endured great pain in our soul, our hearts can become hard and unwilling or even unable to love. As Ezekiel 11:19 teaches, it is not God’s will for us to be hard-hearted, so we need the Holy Spirit to make our hearts soft and tender again.
People can develop hard hearts for many reasons. I had a hard heart because I had been abused as a child and because people who told me they loved me abandoned me. I can remember a time when I felt that people had used me for their own selfish purposes and taken advantage of me for my whole life. In an effort to try to keep from being hurt any more than I already was, I became hard-hearted.
Once a person’s heart becomes hard, making it soft again is almost impossible to do in human strength. That type of change requires a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. He is the only One who can reach inside our souls and heal and restore every place of woundedness there. He teaches us about God’s love and reminds us that God will never leave us nor turn His back on us (See Heb. 13:5).
According to John 16:8, the Holy Spirit also convicts us when we do wrong or mistreat others. When we have hard hearts, we can treat others badly and not care about it. Sometimes we do not even notice it. As the Holy Spirit tenderizes our hearts, we become aware of other people’s feelings and begin to care about them. When people’s hearts are hard, they can sin against God without feeling bad about it. Sin separates us from God, and part of the way the Holy Spirit draws us back to God is by making us sensitive to our sin so we can repent and return to right relationship with Him.
I understand how people can become hard-hearted, and I also know that it is a difficult, lonely, miserable way to live. If you have come to recognize hard-heartedness in yourself such as—a general lack of sensitivity toward God and others or a determination not to let anyone, get too close to you or not to feel emotion—I encourage you to ask the Holt Spirit to help you. Do not allow yourself to remain in that condition. Ask and allow the Holy Spirit to remove the places in your heart that feel like stone and to give you a heart of flesh that is open, sensitive, and responsive to God and others.
We can learn so much from that. When somebody offends or rejects us, we need to see it as a bite from Satan, and just shake it off.
In another instance in the Bible, Jesus told the disciples that if they entered towns that didn’t receive them, they should just go to the next town. He told them to shake the dust off their feet and move on. He didn’t want the disciples to dwell on the rejection they had experienced; He wanted them to stay focused on sharing their testimony of His works in their lives. Likewise, as we follow the Spirit, we can shake off offenses and hold on to our peace. When others see that we can remain calm even when “the serpent” bites us, they will want to know where that peace is coming from in our lives.
When we are in a state of upset, we cannot hear from God clearly. The Bible promises us that God will lead us and walk us out of our troubles, but we cannot be led by the Spirit if we are offended and in turmoil. We can’t get away from the storms of life, or the temptation to be irritated by someone; but we can respond to offenses by saying, “God, You are merciful, and You are good. And I am going to put my confidence in You until this storm passes over.”
Prayer Starter: Lord God, I am open to the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart, making any hard place tender again. In Jesus’ name, amen.