In Jacob 6, after providing some brief explanation of the parable presented in the previous chapter, Jacob encourages the people in three consecutive verses to not “harden their hearts.” He points out that those who do harden their hearts will be unable to hear the voice of God and will therefore be unable to take advantage of His mercy and will therefore be unable to be saved in the kingdom of God.
What does it mean to have a hard heart? Physically speaking, nobody’s heart can truly be hard, as it would be unable to function as a pump for the blood and the person would die. However, to the extent that the heart represents our true inner self and the place where love resides, it makes sense that we can choose to erect a barrier such that the words or love of another individual (or of God) cannot penetrate and get to us.
It’s in essence a way people have of protecting themselves from being influenced or affected by someone who they have already decided they don’t want to have a connection with.
For example, when my doorbell rings, I look out the window, and if the person standing there is holding a clipboard or a tablet or is wearing some type of nametag, then I don’t open the door. The person may be there to buy me dinner or give me the keys to a brand new car or tell me about Jesus, but I’ll never know because I don’t open the door. I’ve already decided that this type of person is there to try to sell me something I don’t need, so I don’t give them the chance to even begin their pitch.
We, of course, don’t want to be in this position regarding the things of God, as we would then be missing out on the greatest thing of all — the gift of salvation. However, it’s fairly safe to assume that you’re not hard-hearted toward the things of God. How do I know? Because you wouldn’t be reading this article at all if your heart was not open to the things of God.
On the other hand, you probably know people who are hard-hearted toward the things of God. If you mention God, they roll their eyes and don’t listen to a word you’re saying. And that’s if they’re polite. Others may belittle or try to make a joke out of what you’re saying. Some may even get angry and demand that you stop.
So, how can you possibly get a message about God through to someone who is hard-hearted? You could try telling the person he’s a sinner and needs Christ to avoid eternal destruction. It’s a true statement, but the most likely outcome is to turn the polite hard-hearted person into an angry hard-hearted person. You can try telling experiences and talking about miracles in your life, but the truly hard-hearted person will not hear what you’re saying and may even belittle these wonderful experiences.
So, what do you do with a hard-hearted person? Just show love. The only way to break through the barrier erected by a hard-hearted person is to get him to understand that you truly love him. It can’t be fake — you do have to love the person. In time, if the person perceives that love from you, he will trust you sufficiently to open his heart enough for you to be able to share the things of God, and you will have your opportunity.
It doesn’t mean that the person will necessarily accept Christ and be baptized. If the person ringing my doorbell got me to open the door, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that I would be buying new windows or having my driveway resealed or becoming a Jehovah’s Witness. However, count it a victory if you have loved a hard-hearted person enough to be granted the opportunity to share the gospel and then leave it in the hands of God for the outcome.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.