Hardness of Heart

I don’t know if you are aware of it or not, Thursday, September 29th is World Heart Day.  The American Heart Association has featured an article to highlight this occasion, entitled Advance Heart Failure.  It states that “heart failure is considered advanced when conventional heart therapies and symptom management strategies no longer work.”

In an unprincipled secular culture, some rightly might say that hardness of the heart, in its extremeness, is a condition of insensitiveness, rigidness, coldness, callousness and unyieldingness of the mind.   Such a person has his ideas, outlooks and feelings firmly set and nothing and no one can change them.  This hardness may be directed toward other people, elements of society, a government and even religion. From a biblical perspective, hardness of heart is an unhealthy condition characterized by the same traits of insensitiveness, etc. noted above in addition to one’s loss of spiritual perception.  A hardened heart dulls a person’s senses, not the physical senses of sight, hearing, touching, feeling and smelling but those inner senses having the same name as the five natural senses. For example, Jesus once said to His disciples who did not understand the similes and metaphors of the physical and non-physical realms in His teaching, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?  Do you not yet see or understand?  Do you have a hardened heart?  Having eyes, do you not see?  And having ears, do you not hear? (Mark 8:17-18, also see Jeremiah 5:21)  Simply, the disciples were identified as hard-hearted because of deficient or deprived inner senses needed to comprehend Jesus’ instructions. Like the blocking action of blood in the disease of atherosclerosis and advanced heart failure, a dysfunctional hard heart strangles the convictions of moral conscience―the faculty of our inner man by which we discern what is good and evil and make value judgments.  Acting against one’s conscience blunts the psychological and spiritual wisdom for which it was intended.  Repeated thwarting of one’s conscience might pave the way for making unwise choices and habitual wrong-doing with less guilt, which like advanced atherosclerosis and advanced heart failure, may be lethal to the mind, body and spirit.    


Nonphysical or Spiritual Heart Disease

There is another more serious kind of heart disease that we should be concerned about.  It is much more common and deadly than coronary heart disease. Like the silent killer aspect of a heart organ, its early onset and hardening feature, it must be diagnosed and treated for if it is not prevented or treated it can dampen the individual’s hope of a calm and tranquil life of peace (shalom). The disease itself is referred to as “Hardness of Heart”. When the Bible refers to the heart, it is not referring to the physical organ itself but a figure of speech to indicate the seat of emotion and intellect, the innermost nature of a mankind. According to several Bible dictionaries, the heart is the center not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. The heart is the "home of the personal life," and hence a man is designated, according to his heart, wise, pure, upright and righteous, pious and good. The heart is also the seat of the conscience. (Incidentally, the Hebrew language has no word for conscience, so the word heart was often used to express this concept.) This may shock some of our fellow bloggers, but the heart is also naturally wicked, and hence it contaminates the whole life and character. Hence the heart must be changed, regenerated before a man can willingly obey God. In summary, the heart is the center of all the operations of human life. When understood in context of specific biblical passages, the heart stands for the person’s identity and for all the vital functions of one’s mental, emotional and spiritual nature. This identity and nature, as described above, can be viewed as ‘good’ or ‘not good’.

(More on the hardness of heart in upcoming posts.)