Episode 1. The Hardening of the Heart
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Just as it takes time for our physical arteries to harden, so it takes time for our spiritual and emotional heart to harden. But if we leave the causes and the symptoms unchecked, there’s one thing …
Just as it takes time for our physical arteries to harden, so it takes time for our spiritual and emotional heart to harden. But if we leave the causes and the symptoms unchecked, there’s one thing for certain – harden it will. But Jesus … Jesus has one sure cure for even the hardest of heart.
Hey it’s great to be with you again today at the beginning of a new week. I was really blessed to have a good break over the weekend, I love what I do, I really love being able to spend these few minutes with you each day but you know something, I like a rest too, I like that break over the weekend.
You work hard all week, at least I do. Generally they’re very long hours and although, when you love doing what you do, it doesn’t feel like work, coming to the end of the week I’m pretty much ready for a bit of a rest. And one of the highlights of my week is waking up on Saturday morning and planning a date with my beautiful wife.
You know, now that our kids have grown up we’re able to just go out on little dates. Saturday mornings to a coffee shop, mostly it’s just toast and coffee but it’s something we do for us. We chat, read the paper, just spend time together. I’d have to say it’s one of the most special times in the week for me.
Before you get the idea we’re a perfect couple with a perfect marriage let me tell you I am not a perfect husband, as much as I’d like to be, and sometimes Jacqui isn’t the perfect wife. I can be such an insensitive clod sometimes and that kind of bruises Jacqui’s feelings. And yet even though we’re two imperfect people – sure trying to honour God, sure doing our best to love each other, despite our imperfections – we love each other and our relationship is intact and hopefully grows deeper and deeper with the passing years.
So how is that, how is it that two imperfect people can grow in their relationship? Well here’s what I’ve tried to do in our marriage. Whenever I get it wrong, whenever I’m insensitive or I make a mistake or I don’t take Jacqui’s feelings into account, whatever it is, that kind of cuts me to the quick. When I realise I’ve done wrong –and hopefully I’m making fewer mistakes today than say I was five years ago – but when I realise I’ve made a mistake I say sorry and I try to mend my ways.
Now saying sorry isn’t something that comes naturally to me and learning to say sorry has been one of the hardest things for me to do in life because sorry is about humbling ourselves, sorry is about admitting we’ve made a mistake, sorry is taking the first step in mending the relationship. And yet as we live our lives together, Jacqui and I, best as we can, making mistakes, saying sorry, pulling each other closer, the relationship grows.
If on the other hand, we just made mistakes and never said sorry and never apologised and never had a softening of the heart and a changing of the mind and a change in behaviour, the relationship would pull further and further and further apart. And you know something, that’s exactly how divorces happen because hearts grow lukewarm first and eventually they turn cold. Now it takes time, but before you know it there’s no love there anymore; there’s no relationship there anymore.
Now the reason I’ve shared that with you today is that it’s a powerful metaphor if you will, or a parallel in understanding the relationship between us and God. Last week on the program we spent some time understanding this concept of Jesus knocking at the door of our heart. He loves us more than a man or a woman can ever love any other.
He loves us with a powerful tender, sacrificial love and yet you and I, whilst once we may have been on fire for Jesus, have this ability to grow lukewarm in our relationship with Him. Let’s just take another look at what He has to say about that, Revelation chapter 3 beginning at verse 15:
I know your works, you’re neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were either hot or cold so because you’re lukewarm and neither hot or cold I’m about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I’m rich, I’ve prospered, I don’t need anything’ but you don’t realise that you’re wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so you maybe rich and white robes to clothe yourself and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
I reprove and discipline those whom I love, be earnest therefore and repent. Listen I am standing at the door knocking, if you hear my voice then open the door, I will come into you and eat with you and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne just as I myself conquered and sat down with my father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the spirit is saying to the Churches.
As I said we’ve spent quite a bit of time over this past week taking a look at what Jesus is saying to us through all that but the bit I’d like to unpack this week on the program is the bit about repentance because, to tell you the truth, when I first became a Christian almost twenty years ago now, I remember those Christians all talking about repentance and repenting and can I be perfectly honest with you here? I thought to myself, “What? It sounds like a word from, I don’t know, the 1950’s, this kind of religious, moralising kind of word, this old fashioned concept being sprouted by an out of date, irrelevant Church. Repentance? Give me a break.”
I’m not sure how you react to the word but me, every time I still hear it today I still get that feeling of a religious word and yet its meaning is anything but that.
Can I go back to what I shared with you about Jacqui and myself earlier? In our relationship, in our imperfection the only way we keep our marriage together, the only way we grow in our love for one another, the only way we get to look forward to our special date on Saturday morning and being together is constantly to repent. To admit that we’re wrong, to admit that we’ve failed, to apologise to one another, to mend our ways and right there is exactly what repentance is.
And so when Jesus is calling those of us who’s hearts have grown lukewarm towards Him, those of us who become, I don’t know distracted with all the trinkets and baubles this world dangles before us, what is it that He says? What is it that He calls you and me to do? He says to us, He’s saying to us right here and right now:
Be earnest therefore and repent.
The literal meaning of this original Greek word “repent”, well here it is, word for word from my Greek lexicon:
To change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with the abhorrence of one’s past sins.
In other words, to get a grip, to realise that what we’ve been doing, how we’ve been living our life is wrong and to have the guts to admit it to ourselves and having that change of heart to change what we’re doing. Isn’t that exactly what I just described in our marriage and relationship before? Isn’t that what keeps a marriage together? Absolutely it is.
So repenting isn’t some old fashioned religious word, in fact let me say this, it’s the single most important thing in maintaining a healthy relationship and growing strong in that relationship. And the thing I love or one of the things I love most about this Jesus is that He doesn’t want us to be religious with Him, He doesn’t want us to go through the motions with Him. Jesus wants us to have a relationship with Him, He wants us to fellowship with Him, He wants to come in and sit down and have a meal and have a chat and be with us.
And so the key to unlocking that door from the inside where He stands out there knocking is quite simple:
Be earnest therefore and repent. Listen, I’m standing at the door knocking, if you hear my voice and open the door I will come in to you and eat with you and you with me.
And so the key to unlocking the door from the inside is you and me having an earnest change of heart. The key to this relationship is taking that knock at the door seriously, being earnest because Jesus is standing there knocking, wanting to be close to us. Being earnest and having a change of mind and a change of heart and a change of ways.
He stands, He knocks.