All of us have experienced ill-timed and misplaced words. Words that hurt, words that divided, and words that were simply not needed. We have also experienced the brokenness and sin of others; being ignored, being abused, being taken advantage of. We have experienced the absence of love at the cost of intimacy, the absence of generosity at the cost of joy, and the absence of confidentiality at the cost of trust. When we are wounded, we put on protection and armor up. When we armor up, we also harden our heart. We do not want to be hurt again.
Unfortunately, our experiences with sinful human beings are projected onto our relationship with God—we assume He will treat us like they did. We assume He will withhold from us like they did. We assume He will also wound us like they did. Consequently, we live with an armored heart.
To know the Lord is to know His heart; a heart that longs to make us whole. God’s heart made itself vulnerable, and took on the pain of the world. He understands what is at stake when He asks us to soften our hearts toward Him. He also knows that a hardened heart will only close in on itself, whereas a soft heart will live, grow, and thrive. Out of a whole heart are we able to love.
So, how do we put down the armor?