Jeremiah 17:1 (New Living Translation)
“The sin of Judah is inscribed with an iron chisel—engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts and on the corners of their altars.”
Ezekiel 11:19-20 (New Living Translation)
“And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations.”
God’s words quoted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel encapsulate a problem we still suffer today—we have stubborn hearts that prefer the ways of sin to God’s ways.
Jesus was truly unique because he alone was born with God’s law written on his heart instead of sin. Like us, he knew temptation, but he always had the law—the very mind of God—at the center of his thoughts and desires. Such single-minded devotion to God, the Ezekiel passage tells us, gave him the strength and the will to obey God in the face of every temptation.
When we choose to follow Jesus, God gives us a heart like his Son’s, inscribed with the law of love—love for God and love for our neighbors. Along with this gift comes another—the gift of the Spirit, to help us learn and obey God’s ways. Unlike our hard, flinty hearts, these new hearts can take in God’s love for us, and with new responsiveness we learn to love God and our neighbors as never before and in ways that make little sense to the watching world.
When God breaks up our stony hearts, he breaks down our desire to hate and seek revenge. Increasingly, we want to love as Jesus did and learn to forgive others, even for harsh and unjust treatment, because peace and reconciliation are what our God desires.
FATHER, my heart already belongs to you, but I still have a long way to go to be like Jesus. By the grace of your Spirit, help me to resist the pull to harden my heart against your ways. Help me to take in your love and grace like April rain, letting it soften my heart and dissolve away my bitterness and hurt over injustices I have suffered. Give me a heart rewritten with your law of love and peace and the desire to follow the example Jesus set for me.
Hebrews 8:10; Matthew 22:37-40
When someone hurts or offends you, what is the first “law” you are likely to obey?