Hearts And Wineskins

Jesus often rebuked those with “hard hearts.”

Our pastor used the phrase “hard hearts” in a message this weekend. He suggested that we should strive to cultivate a “soft heart.” I wondered exactly what he meant.

My dictionary defines softhearted as “tenderness of heart, capable of pity or other kindly affection.”

I’m not sure that’s exactly what Jesus had in mind.

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins. (Mark 2:22)

I once saw a time-lapse video demonstration of this principle. A fresh new wineskin is pliable and elastic, so it can expand to accommodate the gas emitted as new wine ferments. The new wine can literally burst a brittle old wineskin.

That’s a picture of how Jesus viewed soft and hard hearts. A soft heart is like the new wineskin. It’s able to listen, assimilate new ideas and truths, and accept those who think and behave differently. A soft heart is characterized by tolerance, an open mind, and the ability to accept correction. It values people over ideas.

A hard heart demands conformity. It’s a “my way or the highway” attitude that insists on strict adherence to rules at the expense of liberty. Hard hearts refuse to acknowledge any alternative custom or opinion. Their interpretation, their revelation, is the final word in any discussion.

Hard hearts create rigid, joyless religion. They reduce Jesus to regimented lists of ideas and single-issue arguments. They value winning and being right.

Jesus condemned hard hearts by comparing them to brittle old wineskins. He came to bring a new truth that values people over rules and tolerance over blind conformity.

Jesus told us to keep our hearts flexible and open, willing to listen and be led by His spirit in surprising new directions.

I hope my heart is a new wineskin. You?

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Copyright 2008-2012 by Rich Dixon, All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.Rich is an author and speaker. He is the author of:

Relentless Grace: God’s Invitation To Give Hope Another Chance. Visit his web site www.relentlessgrace.com

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