“…being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart.” (Eph. 4:18)
Darkened understanding is the result of being excluded from the life of God because of ignorance. They were ignorant because their hearts were hardened. If that’s confusing let’s turn it around and state it in the correct order.
First, there is the hardening of the heart. Because the heart is hardened no good news can penetrate it. Because the heart has no good news, it cannot participate in the life of God. This lack of good news results in the darkness of understanding. What a life it must be to live without understanding, separated from the presence of the living God.
What is meant by the hardness of the heart? How does one do that? I would like to borrow some knowledge from my days as a boy. We sometimes used the new ground to plant watermelons. New ground was ground was land that had not been farmed before. Hence it had not be plowed. When this ground was first turned, it tended to be lumpy as hard parts did not break up easily. After plowing a disc had to be run through it to break up the harder pieces. Sometimes after than a harrow might be used to get finer pieces. Ground with lumps doesn’t aerate as well as land with no lumps. Each year that field was plowed, the lumps got smaller and smaller, and the ground became more and more pliable. It held more water and air and made it easier for plants to grow.
Hard hearts are like new ground. When we put our fingers in our ears and hands over our eyes, we keep our hearts hard. Good news cannot penetrate the fingers and hands covering the doors to our hearts, and so when the seed is sown, it finds no place to grow. Hard hearts don’t let the rain and air in, rather they stay in ignorance of good news.
Sometimes, we’re so sure we’re right that we won’t listen to the message that is being shared. We determine before it is spoken that it is not worthy of our ears or eyes. I recall once when I was going to teach a class using a religious work by a well-known author as a talking point. A fellow Christian approached me and condemned the work, greatly discouraging its use. I asked this brother, “Have you read the book?” His reply was no. I then asked how he could pass judgment if he had not read it? “I wouldn’t waste my time,” was his reply.
How many have shut their hearts to the good news of Jesus because they thought it was a waste of time? Jesus tells us, open our hears and hear, open our eyes and see. Believe because of the evidence he gives. Hearts of stone are ignorant, without life, and darkness prevails their understanding.
Task for today: Give the word a hearing. Don’t close your ears and eyes to the testimony of others who are walking in the light. Don’t judge a book by its cover or its author, but by its truth.