Vincere = Soften Your Heart
Vincere = Conquer in Latin
PART TWO OF SIX
Several years ago my good friend and favorite preacher Jerry Vineyard created a motto and a logo as a reminder for us in our church ministry. The logo was a picture of a rhinoceros and the motto underneath said , “Tough hide, soft heart.”
Nothing but the Lord could have prepared us for ministry at the church we planted in 2011 called Under Over Fellowship. We are a church that meets outside in a park and ministers to many homeless and marginalized, as well as the mortgaged and celebrated. We run a Mission that is open most days where people can take a shower, get food, a change of clothes, and wash their clothes. We also have a men’s transitional housing program to help men get back on their feet. I never would have predicted this ten years ago, but at least one of our pastoral staff gets cursed out almost on a daily basis, for sure on a weekly basis. We are threatened much more frequently than you would ever imagine. When you are dealing with people so deep in their addiction, it is often tough to try to help them.
In our men’s program, we have suffered much heartache and even tragedy. We pour into these men. Time after time we have seen a man doing so good and serving the Lord; and then seemingly on a whim, they leave the program and end up right back where they began. This is very disheartening, to say the least, and tough to deal with. We have also seen former program members, church attendees, and people we served through the Mission die during the life of our church. It is heartbreaking.
This “tough hide, soft heart” mantra was to remind us “to not grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). We cannot let our hearts harden towards those the Lord has called us to serve. We cannot let our hearts harden towards God and the call He has placed in our lives. If I get cussed out today, I will show up tomorrow morning and take another cussing, if necessary. The Apostle Paul even tells me I should “count it pure joy” when I face trials (James 1:2).
There was a day that even the disciples of Jesus hearts started to harden. As Jesus spoke about bread, the disciples only thought of the physical food, not the spiritual food that comes from the Bread of Life. It’s as if the disciples had already forgotten the miracle of feeding the multitudes with so little. Jesus asked them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not perceive or understand? Are you hearts hardened?” (Mark 8:17).
It is very easy to let our hearts harden. We live in a sinful and many times cruel world. A hard heart is a tool of the devil. Our hearts can harden for many reasons. It can be easy to let our hearts harden towards the people we minister to. We let our hearts harden towards people that hurt us in relationships. Maybe you have a hard heart towards a friend or family member; they have done something that you just cannot seem to forgive.
Maybe your heart has hardened towards God. The message of the Gospel does that in itself, for those that do not respond. I believe there is always a response to the Gospel; either we allow God to draw us near or let our hearts harden a little more towards the message. I have people I love that have lost children and spouses. They might cry out, “God, why did you allow this to happen?” Their heart potentially can harden towards God because of the circumstances of this life.
However, we must not let our heart harden towards God or towards others. I know it is easier to write about than to do. The Great Commandment tells us to “love God, love others.” We cannot carry this out with a hardened heart. The circumstances of this world do not change the fact that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and all-loving.
One of my favorite portions of Scripture is in Romans 11, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33-36).
As hard as we try, we cannot understand God’s ways much of the time. He knows best, no matter what. If you are holding on to a hardened heart towards Him, let it go today, and trust Him completely. To Him be glory forever; on the best of days and on the worst of days.
If there is a person, family member, people group, political group, the list can go on and on, that you have a hard heart towards, pray for them and let it go right now. Let you heart soften towards them and keep a soft heart.
God wants to completely conquer your heart; let Him.
Just for today, have a tough hide and soft heart. Think of someone you have a hard heart towards and pray for God to take it away.
Tune in tomorrow for Part Three…