You know the stereotypical grumpy old man. He complains. He criticizes. He backbites. He always has something negative to say or comment- and if he doesn’t- He settles the mood with a disproving grunt. Grumpy old men weren’t born grumpy. They became grumpy.
It took time. It took years probably. And it took choice.
One day at a time, a young man decided to be bitter. He decided to be unthankful. He decided to be critical.
He chose that life, one small choice at a time.
The Bible calls out to God’s people repeatedly, especially the people of Israel. “Harden not your hearts” Hebrews 3:8
We see this phrase, and similar ones repeated often.
Somehow I had always read over this without thinking. Without realizing what it was actually saying. It was a command.
“You!” “Don’t harden your heart!”
I seemed to imagine that a persons heart became hard over time by default. Like a rough life, bad background, and less than perfect upbringing caused a person to develop a hard heart.
While those may play a part, that isn’t the real cause. Individual choices make for a hard heart. That cranky complaining old woman is that way because she decided to be so. And so is that sweethearted hospitable woman you know. That sweet old man is kind because he chose kindness. And the grumpy man is grumpy only because of His choices.
We all have hard times and unfair circumstances fall on us. And some more than others. We aren’t doomed to be a product of our circumstances. We can choose to live a virtuous life, one filled with love and kindness.
When God called out to the Israelites, He was asking them not to reject His call to serve and worship Him. If you are a Christian, praise God you have answered that call. But you are not done there. God calls on us to do many things. To live selflessly. To forgive others. To give to the poor. Every command is a calling from God.
“Don’t harden your heart!”