Cut to the Heart
My husband and I were talking the other day about some people we know who have vehemently rejected the Gospel. We are grieved by the situation because we love these people and, not only are we saddened by what lies ahead in their future unless they come to repentance, but also we know that part of the reason they reject the Gospel is because they reject us. Not everyone accepts the changes in your life when you come to know Christ.
I was praying and asking God what we could have done differently to be better witnesses. He showed me areas of sin in my heart (particularly how I can be quick to take offense and slow to forgive) and I repented and asked Him to continue helping me with that. But with regard to those particular people rejecting the Gospel, God reminded me during my prayer time of two similar incidences with drastically different results.
In Acts, chapter 2 Peter preached to thousands who were gathered in Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. Many in the crowd were those responsible for the crucification of Jesus. Peter preached that Jesus was, indeed, the Messiah they had been waiting for and that He had risen from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:29-36). The crowd’s response was as follows:
“Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts. 2:37
Peter responded by telling the crowd to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins. Acts 2:38
The multitude in Acts 2 heard the Gospel, were convicted and grieved by the realization of their sin, and responded by turning to Christ with sincere repentance.
Contrast that with the Pharisees in Acts 7. There, the Apostle Stephen also preached the Gospel and told the Pharisees they had crucified the Messiah. In response, the stiff-necked Pharisees gnashed at Stephen with their teeth and stoned him to death. Acts 7:51-60.
Both groups heard the Gospel and felt the painful, piercing, conviction of the Holy Spirit. But one group responded with repentance, whereas the other responded with pride and anger. You see, God in His goodness and mercy draws all men to Him (John 12:14), but He gives us the choice as to how we respond. This still applies even after you’ve given your life to Jesus. Repentance is just the first step, but sanctification (the process of being purified) is a life-long process.
As I was mediating on Acts 2 and 7, the Holy Spirit had me search my own heart – how do I respond to being cut to the heart? Do I think more highly of myself than I ought and ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit (Romans 12:3)? Do I take advantage of God’s saving grace and justify my sinful desires (Romans 6)? Do I gnash my teeth at the person God is using to convict me, or do I receive that correction with thanksgiving?
Being cut to the heart is painful. It hurts to be confronted by your sin. And the only way out of that pain is to humble your heart, and turn away from your sin to follow Him. How will you respond when you are cut to heart?