Last Friday, May 5th, my wife and I celebrated our 44th wedding anniversary! What a milestone in our lives. What a tremendous journey it’s been. I can’t begin to thank God enough for bringing this wonderful woman into my life. As I reflected on our 44 years of marriage, I was reminded of the primary reason our marriage has survived and thrived all these years, through all the trials, tribulations, joys and sorrows, triumphs, and tragedies. We kept our hearts soft toward God, and soft toward each other.
Nothing is more deadly or destructive in your life than a hardened heart toward God and each other. It’s imperative that you keep your heart soft toward God, and soft toward your mate.
It’s very easy for our hearts to drift, to become callous, distant, and unresponsive. Life is filled with disappointments. I’ve seen so many people grow hard toward God, blaming him for the difficult things in their lives. Marriage obviously challenges all of us. It can easily bring out the worst of our selfishness, and carnal nature. I’ve watched many people grow hard in their hearts toward their spouse, unforgiving, callous, and unresponsive. This is deadly to marriage and deadly to your walk with God.
My wife and I are no different than any other human being. We have the same flesh, the same selfishness in us, the same sinful nature. We can just as easily become resentful, bitter, discontent, and hard-hearted as anyone else.
Nothing scares us more than a hardened heart! My wife and I have given our most serious attention to this warning from God! Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do! We’ve worked with fanatical diligence to keep our hearts soft and responsive toward God, and soft and responsive toward each other. You can’t have one without the other. They go hand in hand. If you let your heart get hard toward your spouse you will get hard toward God. If you let your heart get hard toward God you will get hard toward your spouse! We must keep and maintain a soft, tender heart.
Here are tangible symptoms of a hardening heart.
Ingratitude – If you are not actively thanking God, nor daily showing gratitude to your spouse or appreciation of your spouse, you are getting hard-hearted. An ungrateful spirit is a killer.
Lack of Prayer – Prayer, fervent, emotive prayer is the primary thing that keeps your heart soft toward God. Prayer is the act of showing great respect, and honor to God and dependence on God. Prayer puts God on the throne of our hearts every day.
Lack of time in God’s word – Do you make the time to listen to what God has to say? The Bible is God’s words, God’s message to you. The soft heart treasures God’s words. It’s through the careful attention given to God’s voice and instruction, that keeps us on the straight and narrow, that listens to God pointing out to us our own need, or an area for growth and correction. Neglect your Bible, and you will absolutely get a hard heart toward God. You’re shutting Him out of your life!
Unforgiving – Unforgiveness will kill your marriage. Resentment will eat you away like cancer. The person with a soft heart is forgiving, knowing how much they’ve been forgiven. The person with a hardening heart is unforgiving. Failing to see how much God has forgiven them, they’re hard on others, and filled with resentments.
Unresponsive – The hardening heart is unresponsive to the promptings and leading of the Holy Spirit. Their conscience is growing dull, and callous. They refuse to listen to God. They also become unresponsive and emotionally tuned out to their spouse.
Uncompassionate – Compassion is essential for a marriage. It was for their lack of compassion, their hardness of heart, that Jesus strongly rebuked the Pharisees, who would have rather seen the man with the shriveled hand stay cripple than for Jesus to heal him on the sabbath day. Imagine that kind of hardness of heart, that kind of cruelty and lack of compassion! I have seen it in many people I’ve known. It is so destructive.
Unrepentant, unwilling to change, to acknowledge your wrong – This is huge! There is no way to keep a soft heart toward God when we are stubborn, unwilling to repent or change in sinful areas of our life. I have watched many through the years unwilling to repent, acknowledge a wrong to their spouse, apologize for it, and change their ways. This destroys marriages.
I urge you today to give attention to these matters. Honestly evaluate the state of your own heart toward God and your heart toward your spouse.
Do whatever it takes to keep your heart soft toward them both.
Helping you become a Strong Disciple,
Because of Jesus,
Pastor Mark Darling