Monday, January 26, 2009

Stiff-Necked or Stiff-Hearted?

              “For they are impudent and stiffhearted…”  (Ezekiel 2:4)

         In Exodus 32:9, God describes Israel as being “stiffnecked”; but this indictment in Ezekiel is even more serious, to my way of thinking. The former, though surely reprehensible, is an external characteristic, readily seen. But the latter, a stiff, implacable heart, is a hidden, insidious, and far more lethal condition.

         Stiff-necked individuals are stubborn diehards; and whether it is a spouse, child, student, pastor, elder, or parishioner, they can always be counted on to voice resistance, even before an objective hearing of a matter. Whatever their motivation, these people are hard to work with, hard to serve the Lord with, and harder still to live with. 

         Even more dangerous, however, is the man or woman who stiffens his or her heart to a plea for pity or understanding from a Christian brother or sister, or worse yet, from a loved one. I wonder if these people are aware that the same stiff-heartedness they display to those around them is only a reflection of their attitude toward God Himself and His appeals to them? (Matt. 25:40)

         A stiff neck can be worked out through purposeful, if painful, manipulation; but a stiff heart will require invasive surgery by a skilled Physician. Mercy is an attribute of God, and only He can make a hard heart soft (Job 23:16). This should not be taken lightly. For beware: James 2:13 warns, the man or woman who shows no mercy to others calls down upon himself or herself “judgment without mercy.” 

“He who will not forgive others breaks down the bridge over which he himself must travel.” — Spencer W. Kimball

No comments:

Post a Comment