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Daily Devotional • March 1

Lauren Cripps
Hardness of Heart
A Reading from Hebrews 3:12-19

12 Take care, brothers and sisters, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” 16 Now who were they who heard and yet were rebellious? Was it not all those who left Egypt under the leadership of Moses? 17 But with whom was he angry forty years? Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, if not to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. 

One of the heartbreaking realities of the Christian life is witnessing friends walk away from the faith. In some cases, you are walking in lockstep with a Christian sister or brother when your routes begin to diverge — perhaps by a mere few degrees, but ultimately setting you on different trajectories. In others, the fork in the road is starker, and your fellow traveler departs suddenly from the course you set out on together. Still other friends simply take a rest on a bench along the path, leaving you to wonder if they will find the resolve to resume their walk. 

Whatever the scenario, it brings up a set of questions: Why did they turn away? What could I have done differently? Am I made of “sterner stuff” than they were? Will I stay the course?
The writer in today’s passage reminds the Hebrews of the first generation of Israelites, those who had been rescued out of captivity, who had seen God’s mighty acts, but because of their disobedience never made it to God’s promised future. As believers today, we’re located in between Christ’s first appearance and his Second Coming in glory. Though we have a certain hope in King Jesus’ future reign, we live in difficult, distressing, and demoralizing times. It is easy to succumb to hardness of heart — or lose heart altogether. We must acknowledge our vulnerability as well as the deceitfulness of sin and its ability to knock us off course. We must recommit ourselves — as the writer implores the Hebrews — to the work that is given us: the exhortation and building up of our fellow believers, daily. 

It is one of the best tools at our disposal to keep our hearts soft and to persevere on the long course ahead of us. Consider what it might look like if our mutual encouragement of one another became a positive stumbling block to those considering a path away from the faith. 

Lauren Anderson-Cripps oversees communications and marketing for Nashotah House Theological Seminary and writes for a variety of publications, including The Living Church. Lauren currently lives in Dallas with her husband, Sam, and their dog, Tennessee Jed. 

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina
The Diocese of North Queensland – The Anglican Church of Australia
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