Do you recognize the warning signs of a hardened heart? Some of us—believers and nonbelievers alike—miss those warnings. And that’s a problem. We live day-to-day, carting that hardened heart of ours to the grocery store, to church, and even into relationships as we allow its evidence to slip off our tongues or stew in our thoughts. And sadly, we don’t even realize it.
What Does the Bible Say about Hardened Hearts?
In the heart, we grasp the spiritual truths our loving Father desires to share with us. And when we dwell with true understanding, it’s good—very good! Hardened hearts, however, equate to walking around with both our eyes and ears closed. Imagine strolling in this manner near a construction site, a cliff, or in a yard where a dog has dug holes. There’s a good chance we’d land with a twisted ankle or even life-threatening injuries. Talk about peril!
Matthew 13:14-15, the World English Bible version, helps us understand. It says, “In them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, ‘By hearing you will hear, and will in no way understand; Seeing you will see, and will in no way perceive: For this people’s heart has grown callous, Their ears are dull of hearing, Their eyes they have closed; Or else perhaps they might perceive with their eyes, Hear with their ears, Understand with their heart, And should turn again; And I would heal them.’”
Unbelievers, however, aren’t the only ones who carry hardened hearts. Believers remain at risk as well. The disciples, men who touched, saw, and spoke with Jesus daily, provide an example. Check out Mark 8:17 to read more about their situation. Honestly, their story brings relief. If the disciples walked this dusty earth alongside Jesus—in person!—yet struggled with heart issues, we shouldn’t feel shame for falling prey, too. Instead, we can keep our eyes on the Lord, as they did, and find our way past this obstacle of darkness.
Don’t let your heart grow cold towards new relationships.
Our heart plays a significant role in how we live our lives. It guides us to lead a life of love, kindness, and compassion. But, our hearts can quickly become hardened when we lose meaningful relationships. Losing someone we love dearly that we thought they loved us back, and shake the core of who we are. Whether we got cheated on or blindsided by a breakup, it can make our hearts feel angry and cold. If we repeatedly get hurt over time, we can lose all trust in others, or start acting toxic ourselves. People with cold hearts tend not to be very compassionate or empathetic, so you might experience even further loss because of your change in nature. It can lead even the sweetest person to become someone who is emotionally closed-off or unavailable. Here are some signs your heart has hardened.
You cannot let go of grudges.
You struggle to let go of even the smallest issues and will keep grudges for months, or even years. All your relationships suffer because you have trouble forgiving anyone who has wronged you in the past. People with hardened hearts think that if they forgive someone, they will only get hurt again down the line. Rather than showing forgiveness, they continue to re-experience the frustration, pain, and resentment each time they recall the wrongdoing by the other person. You struggle with rebuilding trust.
You are distant.
A cold-hearted person does not often show much interest in the person they are with. Whether the relationship is romantic or platonic, a cold-hearted person has very little interest in what the person has to say about what is going on in their life, their interests, or their dreams. If you struggle to engage in meaningful conversation, it may be because your hardened heart is scared to get close to someone again. The closer you get to someone, the more pain that can come from any loss. However, living a life this way can become incredibly lonely. It also shuts the door on any opportunities to find someone who is trustworthy.
You are manipulative.
If you have a list of people you have manipulated for your own gain, then you might have a hardened heart. One way to safeguard yourself from getting hurt is by becoming the one who controls the narrative. Someone with a hardened heart will often try to control the people around them through manipulation. This way, they never will be the one who gets hurt. Actions like these show very little empathy or compassion and will make it hard to build any meaningful relationships.
You stopped dating.
After being so hurt by so many people, you decided that dating was not right for you. You might love the idea of having a healthy relationship, but you do not think they are real. You want to be wanted and adored, but the thought of dating someone for more than a month scares you. When things start getting too serious, you get out of there as fast as you can, because you fear what might happen down the line. You are not comfortable sharing your life and feelings with another person.
You stopped talking about your problems and feelings.
Someone with a hardened heart will close themselves off emotionally from all other people because they are afraid someone will use their feelings against them. People might even think you are happy all the time because you refuse to show anything but a big smile. The truth is, though, people with hardened hearts are cold because they do not want to deal with their problems. They choose to bottle everything up and try to push it far down.
You do not want to appear weak.
You are very concerned with self-preservation. No matter what goes on in your life, you remain someone who is level-headed or unwavering, at least to others. You do this in the hopes that no one will ever cross you because you act as if you are not a push-over. You navigate life closed off to protect yourself from looking stupid, emotional, or needy. Instead, you want people to perceive you as strong, cold, and indifferent, even though underneath it all, you might be a big softie. You are afraid that someone might come along and try to break down your walls and take off your mask, and you will not see them coming.
A hardened heart is not inevitable, but it does take intentional effort to guard against one. No matter how much someone has hurt you in the past, it does not mean that everyone you meet in your future will do the same. You cannot blame your past problems on new people that love and care for you. When you feel your heart is becoming hard, you need to act and fight against it. If you work at it, your heart can stay open. When you pick away at the callous, something wonderful still beats underneath. You enter a new season of life wiser, but very much fully alive.
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