The Problem of the Hard Heart
John D. Telgren

We all have felt needs. But sometimes there may come a time when a felt need is no longer felt. For instance, we usually have a felt need for food. When our body needs food, our stomach rumbles, and our body tells us it needs to be nourished. There are those that choose to ignore the hunger, and never feed their body. After awhile, the sense of hunger goes away. If this continues, the body will start to get weaker. Finally, it would not even be possible to receive nourishment because the body rejects it as thought it were something foreign. It no longer recognizes what it needs. If it is not fixed, the result could be a serious illness or even death.

The same thing can happen to us spiritually. We all have spiritual needs that need to be filled with a variety of regular nourishment. We need to feed our souls with the word of God. This is not merely reading the word, but digesting it and integrating it. We also the supportive relationships of our brethren. One of the reasons Jesus established the church is we need intense, accountable, supportive fellowship for spiritual health. That is why Jesus conducted his ministry in the context of a close-knit group of disciples. It was his method for teaching, training, and encouragement.

Sometimes we get a bad piece of meat, or a bad apple. We may even break a tooth on something. Does that mean we stop eating? Of course not. Sometimes we may read something that is not pleasant because it convicts us. Sometimes someone close to us may be hard on us for our good. On the other hand, someone close to us may do evil to us and really burn us. We may feel, “who needs to be close to the brethren? It will just wind up in hurt feelings, arguments, strife, dissension, hate and discontent.” So we stop nourishing our souls.

We could allow our souls to go from soft to hard. Paul speaks of having our conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Tim 4:2). The same thing could happen to our hearts. We could get burned and allow it to form an numbness on our hearts that prevents us from being emotionally available. We find ourselves withdrawing from those who are supposed to be family. We start to invest our hearts into something other than the things and people of God.

Nothing could be more devastating because the spiritual hunger is no longer felt. The problem may not manifest itself until spiritual health is at a critically low. For those of us that have experienced this, we need to pray that God will soften our hearts, and be open to each other once again. God can remove scar tissue that keeps us from being spiritually and emotionally available to each other. If not, it will steal the joy away from serving and worshipping God. It will bring lethargic spirituality.