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What kind of heart do you have? Is it rock hard or tender to the Spirit? As a child of God, you have a heart of flesh, but if you ignore God's warnings, you can harden your heart toward Him. Stay tender. #heartofstone #tenderhearts

Photo: Canva

What kind of heart do you have? A rock hard heart or a fleshy, tender heart? A hard hearted person is one who is not moved by the things that move a tender hearted person to repent, apologize or be tender to hard situations.

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 and
 shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers,
and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

Ezekiel 36:26-28 ESV

What are the characteristics of a stony heart?

Think about the characteristics in a heart of stone. For ideas, look at the one in the photo. It’s difficult to move a stony heart. That heart sits there, hard, and immovable. It won’t change. It stays firm in its habits. In other places, the picture is that of a stiff-necked person. Rigid, inflexible, not willing to bend or give. This person is not willing to bow the knee and humble herself whether it is to God or to others to admit she is wrong. Do you see yourself in this picture? Do you ever see yourself, or do you always see others as being at fault?

Yes, it is true we are in Christ now. We have the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin. We have been forgiven of sin when we were justified and our sinful record was exchanged with Christ’s righteous one. When Jesus took on our sin, past, present, and future and paid for it on the cross. He also gave us His righteous record. It’s called double imputation. That’s when He gave us a heart of flesh and the Holy Spirit to guide us.

What does a tender heart look like?

This is someone who is truly repentant. Repentence doesn’t mean simply saying, “I’m sorry.” on a superficial level. This is a person who is ready to move in a different direction than the one they have been going. They are willing to deal with the idols their heart so easily manufactures and rather than justify their sin, crush them. They aren’t doing it to get you off their back. They are doing it because the Spirit has worked in their heart and softened a hard heart…or one that might normally be hard.

They don’t say, “Well, that’s how I was raised.” or “That’s how I was hurt in my childhood.” or “That’s just how I am.” They say, “Those things may be true about me, but they are holding me back from growth. I must change and as a child of God, I have all the resources to change!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses,
according to the riches of his grace,
which he lavished upon us,
in all wisdom and insight
making known to us the mystery of his will,
according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ
as a plan for the fullness of time,
to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1:7-10 ESV

How do we stay tender hearted toward God?

So as we go through life after becoming part of God’s family by justification and adoption, we have many opportunities to become more tender toward God or harden our hearts more toward Him. The process of sanctification will soften our hearts more. as we obey Him and lean in toward His Word and trust the work He is doing in us through both easy and difficult circumstances. As I write this, it sounds so easy. But the real life working out of it isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds.

It is often a struggle. Yes, I can obey, but underlying my obedience, there can often be struggles and resentments that go along with so many apparent obeys. Yes, I did the right thing. But baggage came along with it. Over time, it piles up in my heart if I’m not paying attention. Often, I’m not. Suddenly, I find myself weighed down with burdens I don’t know where they came from. It can take awhile to untangle them. When the Spirit does, it is a mess of resentments and unconfessed sin harbored against others. My heart has become hard against them. I don’t care about anyone else. I cared about me! It can be so subtle.

Questions to think about

  1. When I hear a new suggestion from the pulpit for application, as God’s Word is being preached, do I consider that it could be God speaking to me or do I reject it automatically because it doesn’t agree with a preconceived idea I have held or my attitude toward the person who suggested it?
  2. Do I allow previous disagreements with other people or hurts from them, to get in the way of hearing God’s truth from them? Do I have resentments that I need to clear away from my relationships with others?
  3. Do I want this heart of flesh that is talked about in Ezekiel? Or am I glad to live with my heart of stone? Without the desire to change, no change will happen.