Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

Our hearts are indeed prone to wander. The writer of Hebrews was not blind to this truth. He warned his readers to protect their hearts. He did so by vividly pointing out the negative effects of sin: it breeds evil and unbelief in our hearts, leads us to fall away from the living God, and hardens our hearts in deceitful ways that we are often unaware of.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” A sinful, unbelieving heart causes us to become insensitive to God. This might be described as a cancer that slowly eats away our ability to love, trust, and rely on Him. If not protected, our hearts can become hard and closed off to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

The remedy is daily encouragement in Jesus Christ. If overexposure to sin causes hardness of heart, then being built up and encouraged daily will prove just the opposite. This will keep our hearts in the best condition possible: soft, pliable, and receptive to the Lord.

• What precautions can you take to heed the warning of this verse?

• How aware of the state of your own heart are you when it comes to God? What processes do you have in place to assess the condition of your heart on a regular basis?

• Pray for an open heart before the Lord. Pray for those around you who seem closed off to the truth of the gospel, that God might soften their hearts to Him.