photo-1454922915609-78549ad709bbI am a guitarist, and have been playing my instrument since I was a teenager—too long ago to mention! When I first started playing, I experienced a lot of pain in the fingertips of my left hand as I pressed down the strings against the fretboard of the guitar. Even after switching to lighter strings, the nerves in my left hand would still scream from the piercing pain of the strings pressing into my fingertips.  I was determined to keep going, however, and over time as I kept practicing on my guitar the less pain I felt because I had developed callouses, pad-like coverings over my fingertips.

Calluses are a thickened and hardened part of the body in an area that has been subjected to repetitive friction over time. For guitarists, callouses are good, for they allow us to play the strings with little or no pain.

It’s a different story when we talk about callousness in the heart of a person.  Having a hardened heart is a deal breaker when it comes to approaching and experiencing God in life and worship.

The apostle Paul put it this way:

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the unbelievers do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”
Ephesians 4:17-19

Callousness in the core of our being occurs when we start and then persist in going against God and His way for us. Over time, the ongoing friction of our rebellious ways —what the Bible calls sin— creates a calloused heart, a dense spiritual insensitivity to God in our conscience and being.  Just like a guitarist has no sensitivity in their fingers due to callouses, so our continued persistence to ignore God and go our own way dulls us to His Presence, Word, spiritual blessings, and commands.

Hard-heartedness also causes us to lose perception of spiritual and physical dangers. Futile thinking, darkened understanding, alienation from God, and ignorance of the things of God are consequences of hardened hearts that cause downward spiraling life choices and situations. The weird thing about callousness is that you may never realize it is occurring. Signs of a calloused heart include pride, greed, sensuality, and impure living, and more.

But there is hope for calloused people!

Guitarists know the way to get rid of callouses is to stop playing.   It’s the same with calloused hearts. The first step for hard-hearted people is to stop living against God and His plan for life and eternity.  There’s a word for this—repentance—that means to do a 180-degree turnaround in our life.  All people need to turn to God, from the prideful churchgoer to the prodigal drug or sex addict.

The sad reality is we can’t do this on our own. We need a Savior, One who has succeeded and conquered sin and death when no one else ever could. God provided His only Son, Jesus Christ, for this very purpose.  He is able to walk beside you and also equip you with His power to overcome sin and hard-heartedness, from the inside out.

The only answer is Jesus.

Paul reminds us that “…the truth is in Jesus…” and then urges us

“…to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires,  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Ephesians 4:21-24

There is refreshing freedom, joy, and peace when our hearts become tender toward God.  When we truly experience Him, God melts our hardened hearts and gives us a new heart.

That’s when real worship happens!