“But the stretches do nothing!”
Physical stretching gives us flexibility, and prevents injury to our bodies. Our hearts, like our bodies, can be inflexible, twisted and injured. Hardened. Towards God, and people. And that hardness bends our entire being out of shape.
“Everything about life tempts our hearts to become hard.”
We may think that hardheartedness is simply ‘the way things are’ – and indeed, much of what we see around us indicates so. But we are called to be different. Called to go higher, called to go deeper. To remember that hardness of heart doesn’t just stop in one place. It spreads and infects all other things – the poison in our hearts seeps into our minds, plagues our bodies and darkens our spirits.
What can be done?
Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome Godwho does not show partiality nor take a bribe. – Deut 10:15-17
Draw on the Source – the Lord has set His affection upon us. Circumcise our hearts to be soft towards the things, plans and purposes of God.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. – Rom 12:1-2
Cut away living by natural desires, ungodly things. Seek after God, place Him first. He is sovereign over all of our lives, so He is Lord over our desires too. Nothing is impossible; with God all things can be overcome.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”… But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. … But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. – Gal 5:13-24
The fruit of the Spirit sound like those physical stretches that do absolutely nothing, don’t they? They don’t sound like traits with great power or might. Yet they do – if only we would see it.
What will I use my freedom in Christ for and on?
What do I choose to cut away today?
What do I pray is my higher passion, preoccupation and ambition?
When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God. – Ezk 11:18-20
[Based on Hillsong service, 13 Nov 2011]