Therefore, say to the house of Israel, The Lord God proclaims: House of Israel, I’m not acting for your sake but for the sake of my holy name, which you degraded among the nations where you have gone. I will make my great name holy, which was degraded among the nations when you dishonored it among them. Then the nations will know that I am the Lord. This is what the Lord God says.
When I make myself holy among you in their sight, I will take you from the nations, I will gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you to your own fertile land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be cleansed of all your pollution. I will cleanse you of all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God.
The promise of relationship with God is this: a new heart.
Doctors worry about the hardening of arteries, spiritual leaders worry about the hardening of hearts. When we lose the capacity for compassion, generosity, forgiveness and love, we have lost our connection to God. What is the solution? In Ezekiel’s vision, God offers us heart transplants: the opportunity to trade in our hearts of stone for hearts of flesh.
We don’t like the idea of being soft-hearted. We see it as a liability. That’s why “bleeding heart” is so often used as an insult.
But whether we like it or not, this is how God calls us to live. Not with hearts so soft that we can’t function in day-to-day life, but with hearts soft enough to feel the pain of the people around us. Because the reality is that if we can’t FEEL the pain around us, we can never expect to HEAL the pain around us.
If you want to live more like Jesus, pray for a new heart!
For Pondering & Prayer
How would you rate the softness of your heart today, on a scale of 1-10? You may want to try an exercise his week: check in with yourself at the start and the end of each day and write down your rating. Make some notes about what was going on in you and the world around you. By the end of the week, do you see any patterns emerging?
Is there someone in your life whom you suspect is struggling with a heart of stone? Is there an act of compassion you can show them this week?