When Jesus prophesied that in the last days “the love of many would grow cold” he could have been talking about today’s world. It seems we’re becoming a people steeped in hate. One author has concluded just that. He writes that our country has turned into an “angri-culture,” one with a “hate-therefore-I-am” mindset. Hatred and rage are embraced as virtues, as new avenues to gain respect. And although anger may bring temporary relief, in the end, it spawns a binding hardness.
Ravi Zacharias writes, “At the end of your life, one of three things will happen to your heart. It will grow hard, it will be broken, or it will be tender. Nobody escapes.”Our hearts are made ready for hardening when we fail to move past the offenses of others. The ensuing hurt and continued focus on what they’ve done to us settles in on us like an invisible fog of resentment. Before long the ability to see things clearly…completely obscured. Once we allow that resentment to kindle into anger, it doesn’t take long for the devil, as Paul warns, to get a “foothold.”
Hard hearts are hearts that stay fixed in anger. The hard shell of cynicism replaces faith in the goodness of God and his ability to turn even the worst injustices into agents of ultimate good. The protective callous meant to guard from further hurt also blocks the penetration of further love. Because— as most of us have discovered— love can hurt. In the end, hatred replaces all affection. It’s not the way God intended us to deal with anger-provoking situations. We are not to let our anger turn into sin.
If we hope to keep our hearts from turning into stone, we must call on the grace of God to help us reject the slippery slope of resentment. And without delay! The longer we let anger brew, the greater the likelihood of self-justification, rationalizations and other such devices to act as hardening forces. Forces that entrench “Satan’s foothold.” May I encourage you to grab hold of the warning from the author of Hebrews: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts….”