“Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, ‘They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.’ As in my anger I swore, ‘They will not enter my rest.’ Take care, brothers, that none of you may have an evil, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebr 3: 7-13)
So the Apostle is exhorting me not to harden my heart “today,” if I “hear His voice.” This hardening of the heart is described here as “going astray” in the heart, by the “deceitfulness of sin.” It prevents one from “entering His rest.” There is much to be said about the Old Testament events described in this passage, how God’s people hardened their hearts “on the day of testing in the wilderness.” But let me reflect how this same thing can occur within me, on my own “day of testing,” which is every day.
I can “go astray” in my heart today, if I accept various small or large distortions of reality, according to my own, limited vision of things. I can embrace envy on the basis of seeing only the negative in my life, and only the positive in someone else’s. I can embrace fear on the basis of the news I read or watch, if I read and watch unenlightened by God’s grace-filled word. I can embrace lust and greed, when perceiving people and things with a “carnal mind.” I can stagnate in self-pity, forgetting my unique, God-given usefulness. And so on. This kind of “deceitfulness of sin” distorts my vision and robs me of peace. That is, it prevents me from “entering His rest,” as the Apostle reminds me here.
Today let me take some time to hear God’s voice, and let His light into my heart, that I may see myself and others as God does. “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps 50/51: 10)