Apr 17, 2009, 8:03 AM
Of all the heart conditions that have been described previously, the worse state that can be attributed to someone is "heartlessness". When we say someone is heartless it literally means that that person is without a heart and has no feelings. That person is just plain callous. You can cry tears to fill several barrels but that will not impress him/her in the least. The person's sentiments have caked as it were and nothing by way of compassion can have sway over him/her. God forbid that our heart conditions should be driven to the stage where we feel no remorse for our actions and are indifferent to the heartbeat and needs of others.
The Bible has its fair share of people who have been heartless to the core, and incidents where heartlessness has been the paramount motive for their actions. Our first example begins with Cain, the elder brother of Abel - both the offspring of Adam and Eve. By some stint of jealousy, Cain murders his brother and conceals his act. When God confronts him: "Where is your brother Abel?" He replied, "I don't know. Am I my brother's keeper? (Genesis 4:9) After such a hideous act, Cain feels very much at ease and instead of admitting guilt, he puts up a brazen face by asking God how did he expect him to know? Was he sorry for the crime he had committed? It is evident from his response. What a sad state of affairs, that Cain should have murdered his brother and not feel he had a case to answer! This could well be a matter of conscience you would conclude in your judgement of his action.
Is it any different when two men of God in a row - a priest and a Levite during Jesus' day - who happen to be travelling from Jerusalem to Jericho, walked past a man who had fallen into the hands of robbers? Wounded and left half-dead, all these two men could do was to continue going about their business and paying the wounded man no heed.
Yes, they just couldn?t be bothered about an unknown victim's well-being. By their actions they portrayed that they were very busy people who had little time to waste. "A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side. So too a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed on the other side." (Luke 10:31-32) Such behaviour is not a rare occurrence in our day. Most of us would for much of the time pass by the other side; 'it is not our concern,' 'this is a police case' or 'call the ambulance' you would hear us say.
Both men saw the victim's state but none wanted to do anything about it. By recounting this parable, our Lord Jesus was underlining how deplorable this kind of attitude vis-à-vis other people was - whether we know the victim or not. It was a stranger, a Samaritan, who took pity on this man and relieved him of his woes.
What would it cost us to stop and show some sympathy or assist in alleviating somebody else's pain? The world would have been a better place if we showed love for one another like we ought, without necessarily bending over backwards. A kind word, a word of encouragement or a message of hope are comforting to the broken- hearted.
Once, a blind man named Bartimaeus was at his post by the roadside begging for a living when he heard that Jesus was coming down that road. He did not want to miss what he considered a unique opportunity, so he yelled: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Luke 18:38) Unfortunately, he met with fierce opposition from the crowd. "Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted the more...." Their intention was to stop him from his breakthrough and Bartimaeus' determination would not deter him. Nothing or no one could come between him and his miracle.
When you look closely at what transpired you probably won't believe yours eyes. What reason had the crowd to behave that way? Look no further; we all behave that way. Somewhere we want to get in somebody's way and deny that individual from making any headway. Wasn't that a heartless and selfish move? Rather than find ways to lead Bartimaeus to Jesus for his miracle, they sought ways to silence him.
We are heartless when we fail to lend a helping hand; when our compassion is void of any concrete action. James in his epistle wrote: "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?" (James 2:15-16) Words of encouragement when the stomach is empty will not strengthen the weak and hungry. Our good deeds must be oriented towards fulfilling a felt need.
Any authority who denies a complainant justice is equally heartless particularly after several appeals have been made for justice to be administered. In the parable of the persistent widow, our Lord Jesus emphasised "In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my adversary.' For some time he refused'." (Luke 18:2-4) His rejection of the appeal of a poor widow smacks of heartlessness particularly when she deserved being treated rightly.
Nothing however could be more insensitive than when passers-by mocked our Lord Jesus as he hung on the cross in agony, paying for the sins of humanity. 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself! He's the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him." (Matthew 27:42)
The hardness of our hearts is revealed in this kind of behaviour when we downplay the suffering of others. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. The cross was the ultimate act of shame and humiliation that he had to face in order to free us of all guilt of sin. But many did not know the purpose for which he hung on the cross. What reckless comments they made as they ridiculed him. Little did they realise that for our redemption, for God to have us back, his Son had to die that wicked and shameful death, the death of a criminal, for us to be saved.
All who ignore the price our Lord Jesus had to pay even to the extent of dying on the cross for our salvation are heartless.
"All you that pass by, to Jesus draw near: to you is it nothing that Jesus should die? Your ransom and peace, your surety he is: come see if there ever was sorrow like his." (Methodist Hymn Book no. 188)