What is the condition of your heart?
Life brings with it all kinds of experiences. How we handle the ups and downs of life affects the condition of our heart. Heart damage often happens in difficult times. If we are not careful, hard circumstances can produce hardness on the inside of us.
When our hearts are hardened, bad things happen to us. We shut ourselves off from God and others. We become emotionally numb and cold. Our attitudes are critical, skeptical and cynical. Our perspective of people and life is jaded. We lose sensitivity to God, to our own conscience and to other people. We stop giving. We stop caring. We also stop growing. Hard-hearted people are sour and unpleasant.
One of the most important things we can do in life is to keep a tender heart. God tells us to make this a priority:
“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” — Proverbs 4:23 (NLT)
” … ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.'” — Hebrews 4:7
” … be kind to each other, tenderhearted … ” — Ephesians 4:32 (NLT)
How do we keep our heart tender? Here are a few suggestions:
What we value is what we pursue. We keep our hearts tender by placing a high value on a tender heart. It is important to God. It should be important to us. Good things come to people who chose to keep their hearts from becoming cold and calloused.
One of the most common ways our hearts harden is by drifting from God. When we ignore our relationship with God, negative consequences set in. We begin to lose our sensitivity to Him, to His Word and Spirit, and to people around us. Spending regular time with God in prayer, study, confession and worship keeps our hearts tender and pliable.
Internalized, unprocessed and unreleased pain makes people hard. When we hold on to hurt emotionally, our hearts calcify. We can easily retreat into our emotional pain and allow it to control how we think, live and relate to others.
Hard people are ungrateful people. They have lost sight of the blessings of life. To keep a tender heart we must not allow this to happen to us. We must continually challenge ourselves to focus on the good gifts God has given us rather than on the problems, pains, disappointments and difficulties of life.
The quickest way to a hard heart is through unforgiveness, bitterness and revenge. When we hold on to the hurts others inflict on us, or the pain we perceive they have caused us, we open the door to the devil. (See Ephesians 4:26, 27.) And when the devil gets a foothold in us, hardness is always the result. The malice we nurse toward others becomes the monster that ravages us.
A tender heart is a great asset in life. It makes us responsive to God. It also positions us to be used by Him.
What is the condition of your heart — hard or tender?