We’re always hearing about the importance of taking care of our hearts. Health advocates urge us to eat right, exercise, and keep our blood pressure and cholesterol in check. Lately, I’ve noticed a television commercial that focuses on the connection between diabetes and a higher incidence of cardiovascular problems.
Yet with all these warnings, I’ve rarely heard anyone talk about the greatest risk factor of all: letting our hearts grow hardened. I’m not talking about the organ in our chest that pumps blood—but rather, the figurative center of our being from which emotion, passion, and spirituality pulsates.
Our hearts don’t grow hard by accident. It happens when we choose to close ourselves off to a relationship or a belief. It might be rooted in rebellion, pride, stubbornness, hurt, anger, or fear. It sometimes occurs gradually, and other times in response to a traumatic event. Regardless of why or how it happens, the results are costly.
I know someone whose heart grew cold toward family members because of who they voted for in the presidential election. Communication and connection has tragically ceased between them. On a broader scale, our country is becoming increasingly fractured as we fail to “love our neighbors,” simply because they hold different views.
A hardened heart is even more dangerous in the spiritual realm, where it can have eternal consequences. Walter Elwell describes it as “a negative condition in which the person ignores, spurns, or rejects the gracious offer of God to be a part of his or her life.” 
This principle is illustrated in the Old Testament story when Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. Although the people had witnessed God perform miracles to release them from slavery, they quickly turned to sin and unbelief in the desert. As a result, an entire generation was forbidden from entering Canaan, the promised land.
The New Testament writer of Hebrews referenced this calamity as he urged people to believe in Jesus as their Savior:
“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.’” 
This plea extends to our generation. The Holy Spirit is still in the business of communicating a message of grace and redemption through faith in Christ. God wants to be part of our lives—but it’s up to us to receive Him.
A person very dear to me is a self-proclaimed atheist. He shared with me how hurts in his life caused him to reject God. For many months, I prayed for his heart to soften. To my great joy, I recently caught a glimpse that my friend’s mindset is starting to shift. His heart, once completely impervious, is beginning to let rays of light penetrate the darkness.
Beloved of God, I invite you to do a “heart scan.” How receptive are you to the Holy Spirit’s whispers?
He longs to communicate with you, right where you are. You might hear His “still, small, voice” through a written word, a spoken word, a song, circumstances, nature, or a nudge in your inner being.
No matter how the message comes, be sure to listen. It will be just what you need.
“Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart.”
 Walter Elwell, in Biblestudytools.com
 Hebrews 3:16-19 (NIV)
 Hebrews 3: 7-8 (NIV)