Giant Theology: the Tender Heart

Heart of stoneIn his recovered diaries, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, pondered the coming atrocities that would be committed in the Nazi occupation of Poland. Central to this would be the extermination of the Jewish population, an action that Hitler and Goebbels both considered to be a key element to their plans for the conquest of Europe. There are hints in the diaries that Goebbels, who was raised a Christian and attended Catholic schools, had second thoughts about this planned genocide. But this brilliant yet pathetic man (who had earned a doctorate at age 23) used his great intellect to steel himself against any feelings of compassion. He wrote, “Be hard my heart, be hard.”

The Bible often deals with the hard heart of people who are resistant to God’s overtures of grace and mercy. In the New Testament, the word “heart” (kardia) is never used for the human organ of blood pumping. It is the seat of human emotions and intellect. A hard-hearted person, therefore, is one who is not open to change in his mental life, but remains immovably fixed in a thought pattern or belief system. Most importantly, the biblical hard heart is one that refuses to repent, often because of pride, but always because of stubbornness. Ezekiel, who certainly dealt with many hard hearts in his ministry, also saw the promises of God in this area when he prophesied:

I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 11:19b)

The New Living Translation takes this even one step further to say:

I will take away their hearts of stone and give them tender hearts instead.

God can change hard hearts! Goebbels did not have to live with a hard heart, and neither do we.

Dr. Christiaan Barnard was the first person to perform a heart transplant. After one of the early transplants, Dr. Barnard was visiting his patient in the hospital. He asked if there was anything that he could do for the man, and was surprised by the request that followed. The man wanted to see his old heart. Dr. Barnard called down to the lab, where the heart that had been removed was preserved in a jar of formaldehyde. The jar was brought up to the room, and Dr. Barnard placed it on a table so the recovering patient to see. The man stared at the heart and said nothing for a long time. Dr. Barnard realized that a remarkable event was taking place. For the first time in history, a human being was looking at his own heart! As he was pondering this, the patient broke his silence. He had seen that the heart in the jar was flabby and enlarged. It was obvious that this heart would not have lasted much longer. The man simply said, “I’m glad I don’t have that old heart any more.”

We don’t have to have that old heart any more, either. God changes hearts. As we approach Christmastime, may we give God our hearts and let him transform them. That, my friends, is Giant Theology. As Peter Cornelius wrote:

Thou child of man, lo, to Bethlehem
The Kings are traveling, travel with them! 
The star of mercy, the star of grace,
Shall lead thy heart to its resting place. 
Gold, incense, myrrh thou canst not bring;
Offer thy heart to the infant King.
Offer thy heart!

Mark Krause
Nebraska Christian College

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2 thoughts on “Giant Theology: the Tender Heart

  1. Hello Mark – I just started reading your post – thank you for including me – I find them very stemulating to my faith and walk with God.
    Your Friend and brother in Christ John Gary

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