On Sunday our pastor taught us about Pharoah, his hardhearted refusal to bow to the will of the Creator. And about the Israelites, their hardheated refusal to trust that God would care for them, and lead them into the wealthy land He had promised to give them. And then he reminded us of the warning to all of us, in Hebrews, that we need to keep our hearts soft toward God.
Hard-heartedness can take different forms. We usually think of hardheartedness as being rebellion against God, a stubborn obstinacy, a refusal to submit. But for most of us Christians, hard-heartedness is simply an unwillingness--a seeming inability--to fully trust in God and abandon ourselves to Him.
All of Hebrews is a defense of the trust-truth, the fact that we can do nothing to save ourselves, and simply need to trust in all that Jesus did.
The Jewish people prided themselves in the law and their love for doing the right things. They were hard-hearted in their righteousness, and they believed they were God’s gift to the world. The writer of the Hebrews tells us there is nothing we can do to make ourselves worthy, or to produce deeds that are of eternal value.
Hebrews says we are totally dependent on God, and the writer challenges us to hold firmly to the realization of this truth.
This doesn’t mean we should do nothing good, or that we shouldn’t work to accomplish what God wants us to do. In fact, the truth that God is in control, and that He wants to work on our behalf, demands even more of us. If we trust God fully, He will call us to greater works than any we could attempt to accomplish on our own.
The hardness comes in the shape of our unwillingness to believe Him for larger things.
God says, “Do you believe my grace is sufficient to cover your sins—that I can forgive you and wash you clean?” “Do you believe I can take this terrible situation you are in and bring good out of it?” “Do you believe I have the power to defeat the evil one in your life—to release you from bondage to the sin that keeps you from the joy and freedom I want you to have?” “Do you believe I can give you the resources you need to do this eternally significant task I have put before you?”
Often our answer, in spite of our deep desire to believe, is “No.” We say, “I don’t feel forgiven, and blessings seem to come and go for no apparent reason. I cannot imagine it might be possible for you to do all these things.”
And as long as we persist in that hardheartedness, that refusal to believe, it will be true. God cannot do all these wonderful things for us unless we step out in faith to receive them from His hand.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. Hebrews 3:15
The ultimate sin, the only unforgiveable one, is unbelief. But God is waiting eagerly to help us overcome that sinful hard-heartedness.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
He wants us to run to Him without hesitation, with abandon, even, no matter what our spiritual state. That's the characteristic of a soft heart--a heart that's willing to risk everything on the hope that God's love will always be there, unconditionally. And He will welcome us with open arms every time we take that risk.
God help us to pray this prayer of abandonment, with David Livingstone:
“God, send me anywhere, only go with me. Lay any burden on me, only sustain me. And sever any tie in my heart except the tie that binds my heart to Yours.”