The Hardened Heart

When the 21 year old Zedekiah became king of Judah (subsequently reigning in Jerusalem for eleven years), he did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before God or King Nebuchadnezzar. “He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 36: 13). One of a string of kings who continually defied and defiled the ways of God and took matters into their own hands, Zedekiah mocked God’s messengers and stood up against anything that would breathe godliness into his heart.

When we stand up against God’s Word, defy His reign in our hearts and lives, we may not be as dramatic as Zedekiah but in fact our necks stiffen and our hearts harden nonetheless. Ever see such a display of arrogant exile of the heart? Ever experience it yourself? I recently confronted one such leader about the defiance in his heart toward God and those he was called to lead and serve. I could almost see his neck stiffen as he was confronted by truth about God and himself. He didn’t like what he was hearing and even though I could see a seared conscience, he resisted the invitation of God to soften his hardened heart. A sad sight indeed.

“Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the people became more and more unfaithful, following the detestable practices of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord” (2 Chronicles 36: 14). The fruit of a hardened heart, and the sad reality, is unfaithfulness and defilement among others…the ripple effect of a stiff-necked person is that they espouse and encourage similar hearts to grow in others.

The invitation from God is quite the contrary…”Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts” (Psalm 95: 7,8). Instead, let it be softened by God’s Word, in prayer as you hear his still small voice, and in community as you are challenged to embrace the truth (which will set you free!) from a brother or sister who cares enough to confront a hardened heart. The world needs leaders who confess their hardened heart and allow the Spirit to soften it for God’s glory.


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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective),  Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn and twin grandsons, Aiden Joseph and Carson Stephen. “My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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