My wife and I live in northwest New Jersey where the water is extremely hard, so we need a water softener. We don’t want our pipes to get calcified.
But another kind of calcification is a much greater danger. We need to be on guard because we don’t want our hearts to get calcified.
The original warning about having a hard heart was to the Israelites who were whining and complaining in the wilderness on their way from Egypt to the promised land. Listening in, you would hear them say “This journey is taking too long! The food is lousy!”
Centuries later, God renewed the exact same warning for Christians in the New Testament — because they still needed it. And two thousand years after that, we still need it!
So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts
as you did in the rebellion,
during the time of testing in the wilderness (Hebrews 3:7-8)
Thankfully, when we are threatened with hardness of heart, God provides heart softeners. Let’s look at one key softener today: The value of encouragement.
See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. (Hebrews 3:12-13)
Our water softener has periodic cycles of recharging and regeneration. Otherwise it loses all its effectiveness. Just so with us. We might think we can do really well on our own, but we need our own recharging from mutual encouragement. And this encouragement is needed daily to avoid getting hardened.
Almost all the wanderers in the wilderness were so hard-hearted that they did not make it to the promised land. But today, as we encourage each other, we trust that we can arrive at God’s destination for us: To be complete in Christ.