For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. Matthew 13:15 (NIV)
If you are a Bible reader, you will recognize both descriptions of humankind below:
1. The ideal—we are made in the image of God, and we have incredible value.
2. The real—we are sinful and broken and need a savior and Lord–with a heart of stone.
The only way to reconcile these descriptions is by entering into a grace-filled relationship with God and others. Yet wounds and experiences distort our thinking, leading to determinations in our minds and hearts that become controls as we process life—like default computer settings that automatically determine our decisions and actions in life through our subconscious.
Our “default settings” come largely from our upbringing—what was valued in our family and what was not. So we make judgments and inner vows. We can even feel bad about good things that were not accepted in our families, such as sad feelings. But the sadness is added to the stony armor that surrounds our hearts, making them impenetrable. A heart of stone can be further cemented in our inner man through judgments and inner vows we make toward others and situations because of hurt, frustration, dissatisfaction, and disappointments.
Determinations that come out of a heart of stone limit the creative potential that God has put in all of humankind to respond in Christ-like ways in order to redeem life’s hurtful and challenging situations. These same determinations defile us in that we accept less than the “in the image of God” likeness that God intended for us.
God wants you to be the you he designed—a real human being who is open to being in community with others and open to taking advantage of new opportunities that God provides.