Consider that a heart changed by God will exhibit the following traits, according to the Apostle Paul: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5: 22-23). If a person’s character does not reveal these traits, one must question whether a heart has truly changed.
Contrast these qualities with what is said about the heart of stone: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36: 26).
How does this apply to making changes in our marriage?
First, a heart of stone is cold and hard. A heart of stone – filled with self – pushes for its own way. This stony heart is filled with pride and resists humility. While we may offer a brief apology for wrongdoing, if it doesn’t come from a soft, reformed heart, true behavior change will not follow. A stony heart can be dead and cold;
Second, hearts not softened become harder and harder. A stony heart may be warmed temporarily, but will soon enough become cold again. Apologies are short-lived and behavior change is superficial. If you want true change, look for a changed heart. You might wonder why you don’t see true, lasting change – it is because resentment and anger reside in the cold, stony heart. This heart actually becomes harder and even more resentful, turning away from you;
Third, change cannot come from willpower alone. Rather, change comes from a heart given over to God. Determination alone is not enough to bring about true, deep change. For as much as one may want to be different, difference occurs from a changed heart;
Fourth, a heart of flesh, controlled by the Spirit, is warm and soft. A heart of stone is cold and hard while a heart of flesh is warm and soft. The heart of stone is dead while the heart of flesh is alive. The heart that is alive will want to please others. That heart will be sensitive and warm toward the needs of others. You will feel the difference;
Finally, a Spirit-controlled heart exhibits the fruits of the Spirit. A heart of flesh, controlled by the Spirit, is open to the work of the Spirit. Feeling that ‘Godly sorrow that leads to repentance,’ this heart leads to true, deep change. (II Corinthians 7: 10) Having repented, owning our wrongdoing, we are changed by the work of God in our heart.
Do you hear apologies again and again with no lasting behavior change? The problem may not be intentional, but rather a heart issue.
credit: Dr. David B. Hawkins
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