through His Word
by Katy Kauffman
A friend has called me a “baby whisperer.” I don’t know. I can cause babies to smile, laugh, and sleep. But preschoolers? I can play with them, chase them around the house, and take them shopping. But when I tell them to do something, ninety percent of the time they continue doing the opposite. Maybe it’s because I don’t see the kids enough to build a rapport with them. Maybe it’s not until I use the “mama voice” that they know I mean business. Maybe “kid whisperer” won’t happen until I have kids of my own.
I don’t want to admit how many times God has told me to do something and I delayed in obeying. I know He means business. I know He means well. But there’s this stubbornness that can take root in my heart, and I want to try my way first. Of course, I find out my way isn’t best, and I tell God I’m so sorry for not listening.
The Danger of Hardness of Heart
What’s that root of stubbornness called that makes us not listen to God and do our own thing? Hardness of heart. If people persist in hardness of heart toward God their whole lives, the end result is an eternity of misery and pain apart from Him. Yet it’s not just unbelievers who suffer if they don’t turn to God, listen to His truth, and obey what He says. Believers suffer, too.
Hardness of heart in a believer’s life can take subtle forms. It may be not acting on promptings that the Holy Spirit gives because we’re too tired, too distracted, or too busy. It may appear as a resistance to giving up some sinful habit or something that we think brings happiness and peace, but really does the opposite. It may express itself as a spirit of self-reliance. After all, aren’t we supposed to be smart, strong, and successful in life?
Hardness of heart forgets God and His investment in our lives. It either doesn’t see or refuses to see God’s goodness, love, and power. It isn’t motivated to depend on Him to use those on our behalf. Hardness of heart demands my way and reaps the same. But faith. Faith remembers who God is and depends on Him to act, to heal, and to save. Faith counts on God to faithfully keep His promises, and it doesn’t run ahead of God but trusts His timing and methods. Faith acts on what God says.
Motivations to Refuse Hardness of Heart
Mark Chapter 6 gives us six vignettes. The first five demonstrate hardness of heart or unbelief, along with its consequences. The last one shows how to overcome hardness of heart and resistance to God.
Mark 6:1-6, Vignette #1: People in Jesus’ hometown heard His teaching and saw His miracles, but didn’t believe in Him.
Mark 6:7-13, Vignette #2: When Jesus sent His twelve disciples out to preach the gospel, He forewarned them about people who would not hear them, and He told the disciples to shake the dust off their feet as a testimony against them.
Mark 6:14-29, Vignette #3: King Herod had beheaded John the Baptist to please a dancing girl, and he was afraid that Jesus was John raised from the dead.
Mark 6:30-44, Vignette #4: Jesus gave the disciples an opportunity to depend on Him to feed five thousand people, but their hearts didn’t have the faith or understanding to do it.
Mark 6:45-52, Vignette #5: The disciples didn’t believe what they saw, and they reacted in fear to Jesus walking on the water.
What were the consequences of these instances of unbelief, of hardness of heart? Let’s apply the consequences in this chapter to our lives today.
What are the dangers of hardness of heart?
- It restricts the mighty work that Jesus can do in us (Mark 6:5).
- Hardness of heart will receive the judgment of God (Mark 6:11).
- It can take us further into sin that we ever meant to go (Mark 6: 20, 27-28).
- It limits what Jesus can do through us (Mark 6:37, 52).
- We can become ruled by fear instead of faith (Mark 6:50-52).
God calls on His children to go past hardness of heart and unbelief in every part of life and to live daily in a reality of faith—a state of mind and heart that is open to Him and to all of the blessings He wants to give us. Strength, healing, godliness, and effectiveness are some of the treasures that God will work in our lives if we turn to Him and listen. If we act on what He tells us. Victory, freedom, and making a difference are blessings in the harvest we reap when we refuse stubbornness and embrace humility and faith.
The sixth vignette in Mark Chapter 6 shows us how to remedy hardness of heart. I’ll share about that in Part 2 of this post next week. Don’t miss it!
Of the five consequences mentioned above, which do you think would motivate most Christians to refuse hardness of heart and act on what God tells them? Tell us in the comments below! Then think to yourself, which one would work the most for you? I picked mine.
© Copyright 2018 by Katy Kauffman
This post is a part of our series called “Overcoming the Obstacles of the Christian Life,” based on the Gospel of Mark. If you missed any of the previous posts, click the links below to check them out:
- “Jesus Can Make Your Giants Fall” – 10 reasons why Jesus can handle any obstacle we face, written by Katy Kauffman
- “Silencing the Questions of Fear” – how faith in Jesus calms our fears, plus six faith-building verses to hold onto
- “The Day Hopelessness Had No Chance” – how Jesus can help us no matter how bad our circumstances get
- “The Day Helplessness Lost Its Power” – how faith in Jesus overcomes helplessness and leads to renewal
- “Enrich the Soil of Your Heart” – 3 ways to reap a harvest of blessing in your life, written by Joanna Eccles
- Unity Is at the Heart of Christ’s Desire for the Church – 3 questions and 3 guides to discern the difference between personal preference and God’s commands, written by Lyneta Smith
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