"And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out; for they all saw Him and were troubled. But immediately He talked with them and said to them, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." Then He went up into the boat to them, and the wind ceased. And they were greatly amazed in themselves beyond measure, and marveled. For they had not understood about the loaves, because their heart was hardened." Mark 6:49-52. Though the disciples had been called individually by Jesus to minister with Him, and through whom they experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, they were still guilty of "hardness of heart." Without recognizing the condition within themselves, they failed to benefit by the power Jesus provided. If this hardness of heart were true of the original disciples how much more can it be true of us? Please hear me: We are not in danger of moral failure as much as we are at risk of becoming victims of "hardness of heart." If we want to live in the fullness God intended, we must be willing to acknowledge this danger in ourselves and correct it. What Causes This Hardness?
1. Unhealed wounds in personal life, family life, church life, work, etc.
2. Accepting attitudes of rejection, suspicion, anger, jealousy, etc.
3. Believing God has dealt with us unfairly and ignored vital prayer requests.
4. Seeing ourselves as failures, poor performers, incapable, of no value.
5. Thinking that life will end with dreams and hopes unfulfilled.
6. Allowing religious legalism to dominate our minds and hearts.
7. Other complications the Holy Spirit reveals to us.
These attitudes all have the same effect: Hardness of heart. When I was a child, attending part-time at the Nazarene Church, they sang a hymn I especially disliked. Primarily, I feared the old folks who cruised up and down the church aisle during the hymn, looking for someone they could take to the altar for prayer. Usually I sat in the middle of the pews where I could not be reached. At any rate, the song (which I love today) is this:
O WHY NOT TONIGHT?
"O do not let the word depart, And close thine eyes against the light, Poor sinner harden not your heart/ Be saved, O, tonight!/ O why not tonight/O why not tonight/Wilt thou be saved?/Then why not tonight?" I have asked the Lord to forgive me for my anger against this song. Not only so, but many nights I now go to sleep listening to its words playing in my ear, "Poor sinner, harden not your heart ..."