Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, September 30

Harden not your hearts, as your forbears did in the wilderness.
—Psalm 95:8a

It is too easy to slip into hardness of heart. We go along living what we think are conscious lives, attending to work, family, and personal health. We follow the rules we are supposed to follow and do the things we are supposed to do. But little by little we build up our defenses, and slowly but surely we begin to feel resentments and a nagging sense that we are not appreciated.

A close friend once told me something I will never forget. “My mother-in-law said to me years ago,” she confided, “that no kindness goes unpunished.” We had a good laugh, but the more I thought about her mother-in-law's words, the more I realized that, unfortunately, they oftentimes ring true.

Do we expect thank you notes? Do we expect pay-back invitations? Probably, it would be better not to “give” or “invite” if we do so expecting something in return. Unfulfilled expectations can harden our hearts if we aren’t careful.

Living with open hearts is difficult. It leaves us vulnerable. We can get run over by others who expect too much and for whom nothing seems to be enough. But living with open hearts means being alive instead of just existing. When we live with open hearts, we can be present to people; we can hear them in a way that we, too, want to be heard. 

How, then, can we begin to “examine our hearts”? Probably the best first step is to check and see if our hearts are truly open—today!

Gracious and loving God, you give us the freedom to live and be. Help us look into our hearts today and have the courage to open them, in spite of our fears of being hurt. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.