I was having a conversation recently with someone and I was struck with how vital it is for us to guard our hearts from becoming hardened. It is so easy when we get hurt, disappointed or damaged in some other way to harden our hearts. Our natural reaction is to toughen up, and put protective walls around our lives so as to not allow anyone or thing to cause us any further harm.
The bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
Toughening up and hardening our heart sounds all well and good, especially when it relates to those people in our life that have caused us harm. We harden our hearts towards them so that they can no longer “get to us”.
But therein lies the problem. When we harden our hearts, we harden them towards everyone and everything without even realising it. It is a fallacy to believe that we can just “build walls” around our heart towards certain people, and it won’t affect the rest of our relationships or life. A wall is a wall, and once it’s up, it’s very difficult for us to allow anyone in. We may have a few “gates” we open up to particular people, but we are no longer living our life fully free, open or how God created us to be.
We become guarded, fearful, cynical of people’s intentions, lacking in trust, in spontaneity, creativity, and joy. It’s not the overflowing, abundant joyful life that Jesus came and sacrificed His life to give us. Jesus broke the power of the devil, but we can choose to stay his captive.
We can easily listen to the devil’s lies, that “no one can be trusted, that the world is “dog eat dog” and just think about, take care of, and love yourself because you are the most important thing. It all sounds reasonable and sensible, but it’s an empty, lonely space, which is exactly where the devil wants us. For then He can more easily come at us when we have little or no “back up” in our life. He is very adept at ferreting under, over and through any gap in our wall so as to deceive, lie, and ultimately destroy us.
Jesus referred to the devil as a thief. He said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)
According to these words of Jesus, the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy everything good in your life. He wants to destroy your job, your joy, your happiness, your health, your finances, your marriage, and your family. The thief just wants to ruin anything he can get his hands on!
When we were visiting Rome recently I was the victim of a pickpocket. They are very cunning, slipping their hands into your pocket or bag to take what they want, and then being long gone before you even discover they were even there!
Jesus uses the word “klepto” or thief to let us know the devil is like a pickpocket; he is very cunning in the way he steals from people. The devil knows that if he does it outright, his actions will be recognized; therefore, he steals from people in such a deceptive way that he often accomplishes his evil goal before we even know he has stolen from us!
He injects thoughts into a people’s minds to steal their peace, joy, and even their beliefs. The word klepto describes a thief’s uncontrollable urge to get his hands into someone’s pockets so he can take that, which doesn’t rightfully belong to him. Interestingly it’s where we get the word kleptomaniac, which describes a person with a persistent, neurotic impulse to steal. That describes the character of the devil exactly. Just as a kleptomaniac can’t help but steal, the devil can’t stop stealing because it is his impulse and very nature to steal. This is precisely the nature and behavior of the thief Jesus warned us about!
“He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44 NIV)
Jesus on the other hand says,” I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10) The word “abundantly” is from the Greek word periossos, and it means to be above, beyond what is regular, extraordinary, or even exceeding. This is not just abundance; it is super-abundance. He doesn’t want us to build walls, and try to protect ourselves, because when we build walls and harden our hearts, we also harden them against Him, for Jesus promises He will protect us.
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
Instead of hard hearts and walls He says, “Live a life of love, and forgiveness; trust me and I will be with you all the days of your life. I will lead and guide you, if you would only listen to me. I have good things planned for your life, things I planned before you were even formed in your mothers’ womb. I have places for you to go, wonders for you to see, amazing, generous, inspiring people for you to meet and love, and a family that stretches across the earth, (as well as those who are cheering you on in heaven.)
Today, let it be demolition day! Go for it, and with Jesus bring those walls down!
Have a listen to this song by Stephanie Gretzinger – “Out of Hiding” to encourage you today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkDqQtfs0w
Prayer: Lord please help me to let go, and to bring down the walls that I have placed around my heart when life got too hard. Help me to trust you to protect, lead, direct and love me enough. In Jesus Name. Amen.