By deepening your walk with God, you enhance your relationships with others.
Do you know a person you would consider “hard-hearted”? Someone who is gruff, holds a grudge, lacks compassion? Someone who is quick to criticize and slow to apologize? Chances are you do. Yet the Bible tells us we are to be “kind to one another, tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32).
How can you make sure that your heart stays tender, that you don’t slip into patterns of hard-hearted behavior? Here are four “heart healthy” tips:
1. Become a good listener.
When you read the Bible, you are really listening to God-inspired words, searching for direction and meaning. Yet it’s easy to skim over verses we find too confusing or challenging. But 2 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” A heart open to God requires open ears and a willingness to tune in to every part of God’s word.
2. Open your eyes.
God loves you so much that his “mercies…are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23). Yet we often fail to see how God acts on our behalf. He shows us his unending love, but we forget about it. And our hearts become hardened each time we are blind to his presence.
3. Look for the bright spots.
Think back to a time when you felt especially close to God, to a time your heart overflowed with a sense of his goodness. When was the last time that “your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD” (2 Kings 22:19)? Look back to these spiritual bright spots—and figure out how to bring more of them into your life!
4. Look beyond your desires.
Having a tender heart toward God creates the rich soil in which our relationship with him can grow. Sadly, our personal desires can sometimes create a dry crust that keeps that love from flourishing. Even our prayer life can lead us astray, if we concentrate more on what we want than on Who we are praying to. Avoiding a hard heart requires us to “devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God” (1 Chronicles 22:19), to love God as God rather than as a divine wish-granter.
The good news about hard hearts is that there is a cure! No matter how little we hear, how little we see or how dead we may be in our sins, God has made us alive with Christ. “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge…which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13-14).
A good dose of “I’m sorry, Lord” is a sure cure for a hard heart. Why not pray that prayer today?