Above all else, watch over your heart; diligently guard it because from a sincere and pure heart come the good and noble things of life. (Proverbs 4:23 AMP)
Our hearts must remain tender, when our hearts harden we block the flow of the Holy Spirit and become disconnected from God. Imagine a river flowing smoothly, the river being the Holy Spirit and the smooth flow is how we receive God's Word, will and instruction in our lives. Now imagine each time we allow ourselves to be offended by another that a rock is dropped in that river, and each time we judge someone another rock is added, if we continue to allow these feelings and 'things' to add up; soon the rocks begin to pile up and the flow of the river is corrupted.
I've made the same mistake myself, I've judged other believers, I've compared myself to others, I've taken offense and let it stir inside me - those sins corrupt the good inside our hearts and harden us. When our hearts become hardened, we're unable to receive what God is sending us, whether it be blessings, favor, grace or mercy - we're just not able to receive what God has for us, because we have blocked ourselves off from God, intentionally or unintentionally. Blocking ourselves from God, turns our hearts to stone and away from God, as if we never knew Him and our thoughts and actions become more like non-believers.
They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones. (Ephesians 4:18 VOICE)
Social Networking has allowed me to witness other Believer's criticizing their brothers and sisters in Christ, judging them with religious scrutiny, using scriptures that were meant for false doctrine as a weapon against one another. There are more instances in the Bible where we're told specifically NOT to judge one another, yet we harden our hearts by casting stones at others, when we've all fallen short of the glory of Christ.
We were commanded by Christ to LOVE one another and to go and share the Good News. How can we love one another, when we are busy judging each other? Christians are considered a joke amongst non-believers because we are so wrapped up in ourselves and judging and criticizing others, that we've ignored what Jesus called us to do. If a Believer is sinning and they are your friend and you can talk to them about that sin privately, do so, but otherwise; pray for them, pray that they will recognize their sin, and pray for yourself that you will not be tempted by that sin and that you will not judge them. There are far more lost souls in this world that need to know the love of Jesus!! But instead we point fingers of condemnation towards them and other Believers- the only thing accomplished is their lack of trust in our God because of a hardened hearted Child of God pushing them away.
I'm not saying to look the other way - there are terrible sins happening like abortion; this is something that is undeniably wrong and against God's Word - but that doesn't mean we ignore our Christian values when we stand up to this evil, there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything. Pray for how you are called to respond to these sins, don't give in to your flesh, spend time with God and He will show you the way.
Read Romans 12:2, I've posted the link to some of my favorite Bible versions of this powerful scripture, it's so much to meditate on, it really is the renewing of the mind...
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV)
(Romans 12:2 NLT, AMP, VOICE, EXP, MSG versions)
If every Believer would pray and meditate on the issues that seem to divide the church, there wouldn't be any division, because God doesn't send different messages to His children. The Holy Spirit tells us one thing. There are so many times when I've posted on my blog and then gone to church only to have my Pastor speak on the same subject, and to have a friend from another state say the same thing - why, because the Holy Spirit is in constant communication with God and if we allow ourselves to receive from God, we'll receive the same message. Jesus told us that He was sending the Holy Spirit to encourage, comfort and guide us - but somehow we've forgotten His words and need to get back to the path that was laid before us.
"If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn't looking for him and doesn't recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you." (John 14:15-17 NLT)
Labels: criticizing Christians, hardened hearts, heart of stone, Holy Spirit, judging others, listening to God, tender hearts