Have you ever found yourself in a position where you know you should be feeling something, but don’t? Similar to how calluses toughen our skin’s exterior to numb physical sensation, we have the ability to build walls around our hearts that prevent us from being in tune with the emotions that are supposed to lead us towards God and making changes in our lives. It’s a devastating mistake that has long term consequences:
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
The Bible teaches that the condition of your heart will determine how your life turns out. So if you’re a person who has a lot of unresolved anger, odds are you’re going to become an angry person who does angry things, like lash out at those closest to you or hold long term grudges. It’s a simple concept that unfortunately is missed by many.
So how do you know if you have a hard heart? What are some signs that you have some issues in your heart that you need to deal with before it gets too late? Here are 5 signs you can look for that should help clear things up for you.
1) You don’t feel like talking to anyone
We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13
One surefire way to tell that your heart is hard is that you just can’t bring yourself to talk to anyone about anything of substance. When someone brings up a topic that hits a sensitive spot, you shut that conversation down. It’s normal to have areas in our lives that we’re not comfortable facing, but it’s another thing entirely if it leads to a complete lock down of anyone trying to come close.
What Paul teaches us from this passage is that it’s ultimately a decision we make whether we want to be known or to stay hidden. Opening wide your heart may not always sound fun, but continually choosing not to will eventually land you in a position where you have little to no friends in your corner. Don’t let that happen!
Solution: Vulnerability. That’s what this scripture is advocating. Let people know what’s going on with you, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel. Try starting with one close friend, or a family member, and then move on to three. Go get some coffee and relax a bit. You’ll like life a lot better when you can talk about more than just the weather or traffic.
2) Everyone’s advice seems bad to you
But again the magicians of Egypt used their magic, and they, too, turned water into blood. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had predicted. Pharaoh returned to his palace and put the whole thing out of his mind.
Have you ever had multiple friends suggest to you the same thing throughout the course of a single day, and yet still find ways to convince yourself it’s a bad idea? Getting advice from friends is a fundamental principle taught in the Bible. However, it’s incredibly common for people to ignore any kind of wisdom that could better our lives or spare us from trouble.
The Bible describes Pharaoh as having a hard heart, and that was displayed in the way he ignored Moses’ pleas to change his course of action time and time again. The consequences for ignoring this advice was devastating, and ultimately caused him his life.
Solution: Humility. This scenario is an easy mistake to avoid if you can just swallow your pride for a bit. Try catching yourself the next time you tell three friends in a row that you’re doing just fine without their opinions, and decide to listen to what they have to say.
3) You’re unable to love anyone
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold
I remember reaching a low point in my life a couple years back where it seemed like everyone I cared about was worse off for knowing me. The amount of damage I had done through hurtful sins was staggering for me; I was sobered by the multiple conversations with friends and family who let me know how destructive a person I had become.
This is what it’s like for someone who’s heart has grown hard because of sin. Sin separates you from God and people, and renders you incapable of loving the people most important to you. If you find yourself in a position where you only seem to make people unhappy despite your best intentions, there is undoubtedly a hardness of heart that you’ve developed due to sin in your life that hasn’t been dealt with.
Solution: Honesty. 1 John 1:5-7 teaches us that when we walk in the light, we’ll have fellowship with one another. In other words, if you get all your stuff out in the open, it will endear people to you because you chose to become vulnerable.
4) You can’t get happy for anyone’s success except your own
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
1 Corinthians 15:9-10
Paul was an amazing person. He was arguably the most noteworthy character in the New Testament other than Jesus. He saved many lives and led countless people, and yet always considered himself unworthy of any praise or adoration. In fact, he condemed it. We could learn a lesson from him on how to not get caught up in our own ambitions.
Bitter envy makes you hate people. Instead of celebrating differences and admiring people, you spend time actively hoping people fail. If you find yourself in this position, you have something that’s hardened your heart so much that you can’t see past what you wish you had.
Solution: Admiration. Check out Philippians 2 for some practicals from the Bible on how to care more about others’ success than your own. People who do this are way more likable than those who are only in it for themselves. Psalm 73 is also a good example of a heart transforming from envious to grateful/content.
5) You don’t feel anything about the stuff you should
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.
This last one is probably the scariest indicator of a hard heart. This passage describes the end result of someone who keeps their heart hard, and it isn’t pretty.
Typically when we do things that violate our consience, we feel a sense of shame or guilt, and that’s supposed to drive us back to God. However, when you lose sight of those warning indicators, that’s when you’re in trouble. You examine your life and see sin but feel nothing about it. Instead of alarm, fear or even anger, you feel nothing. Just apathy.
The aftermath of this condition is laid out in verse 19: a loss of sensitivity, surrendering to sensuality, and indulgence in all things impure. And it’s insatiable, meaning things will only get worse. This is a hard spot to come back from.
Solution: Love. Romans 12:21 says is best: “overcome evil with good.” The Bible talks a lot about repentance, because it involves actively turning away from the life we’ve been living and becoming more like God, who is love incarnate. By focusing on how to reconcile relationships and give your heart to people, you’ll reverse the course of your life and become someone who can feel again, and love the people closest to you in life. It’s a much better road, believe me.