Calloused Hearts- 3 Nephi 9:20

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

COMMENTARY

And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit
Thus far in this study I have examined our need to give up our stony heart for one of flesh, and also the need to humble ourselves enough to receive that transplant.
Under that context, consider today’s verse. Here the Lord speaks of our old heart needing to be broken and sacrificed before we are baptized into His fold. In other words, coming to God is going to break the person that we were! Is it any wonder that fully coming to God is so difficult for us then? Is it any wonder that we shrink back into our calloused heart at the first sign of complete surrender? We edge closer and closer to the precipice, tease at taking the plunge, but there remains a world of difference between getting close to the edge and actually taking that leap of faith.
We want to have a full life, but are we willing to give up what little we already have to receive it? Because there just isn’t space for Him to raise the new us so long as we’re still clinging to the old one. It isn’t a cruelty of God to ask for a sacrifice of our heart, it is simply a necessity.

Give Thanks- Second Chances

I am grateful for second chances.

There is a childish fear in us that if we make someone upset our friendship is over forever. That if we are sent to prison we can never be a part of society again. That if we, or our parents, go through a divorce we will never be whole again. That if we do something wrong, there isn’t a reason for others to like us anymore.

In short, many times in life we have a sense of something breaking and we believe that now it must always be broken. And while sticks and stones might work that way, living things have always had a remarkable ability to heal. And so forgiveness and second chances and mended hearts are a very real part of life. And when it is the hardest to believe in them is when they need to be believed in the most.

#givethanks

Our Own Reality- Matthew 6:24, 1 Kings 18:21

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.

COMMENTARY

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other
Previously we considered Pharaoh, who wanted the God of the Hebrews to give him reprieve, but also wanted to maintain his control over the Hebrew slaves in direct defiance to that God. As the famous saying goes, though, you cannot ride two horses. If you try, you will only tear yourself, which, tragically is exactly what happened to Pharaoh. By trying to have his cake and eat it, too, he lost his firstborn child.
Many men and women lose the most precious things by trying to clutch to two opposing realities at the same time. Powerful addictions, in fact, often stem from a division of the soul, one where a person genuinely believes in a greater good, and professes it loudly, yet secretly lives a lesser evil on the side. A wedge is gradually driven into the heart, pressing deeper and deeper, until eventually things start to break.

How long halt ye between two opinions? if the Lord be God, follow him: if Baal, follow him.
Each of us only has room for one reality and one master. It is simply not in our nature to thrive so long as we are divided against ourselves. Thus each one of us must choose which reality we will embrace, and then embrace it with all our hearts, letting go of all the rest.

The Captive Heart- Summary

The purpose of this study was to consider all the different ways in which we become lost or broken, and how the atonement of Jesus Christ addresses each of these issues. Through this study I have gained a greater appreciation for how multifaceted that sacrifice was, and how it fulfills many laws and overcomes many challenges and defeats many enemies all at once in order to rescue us.
For each one of us has been lost and broken in many and unique ways, and your remedy must be different than mine. We require a surgeon who is prepared to care for every kind of wound, and every combination of wounds.
I was also struck during my study by how deeply aware the gospel is of this situation. I found that the scriptures, which written millennia ago, already held the answers to questions that I only thought to ask today. Let us review what those questions and answers were.

We Are Broken and Lost in Diverse Ways

As suggested above, we are each wounded in unique and diverse ways. During the course of this study I broadly described those wounds under three categories: wounds that we inflict upon ourselves, wounds that are inflicted on us by others, and wounds that are inflicted on us by the fallen world. Without exception, each of us is broken under each of these categories.
But, of course, each category can itself be expanded into innumerable instances, each of which comes with its own individual heartache. The regret of telling a lie is different from the guilt of giving in to lust, which is different from the pain of being insulted, which is different from the shock of losing a loved one, etc.
Heaven is a place of perfect cleanliness, perfect peace, and perfect joy. And as such, we are ill fitted for it if we are filthy, or conflicted, or even sad. Which, of course, we all are. Not only that, but we are filthy without the power to clean ourselves, conflicted without the power to mediate our own peace, and sad without the power to give ourselves lasting joy. We are not only lost, we are lost without any power to find the path back.
Isaiah 53:6- All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.
John 5:6-7- When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?
The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

Being Broken is Mandatory in a Fallen World

Our hubris is that we so often think we can do something about this brokenness. We believe that if we exercise enough self control, we will never sin. We think that if we wall off our heart, we will never be hurt by another. We hope that if we take enough precautions, we will never fall to the misfortunes of the world. And if we have already suffered any wounds, we tell ourselves that we can work around them, or else that we’ve cured them by sheer force of will. In other words, we live in supreme denial.
Mortals trying to defy gods. Just who do we think it is that we are trying to bowl over with our grit and spunk? Our foes are Satan, human nature, and the very world, beings and forces that are immortal, that have broken men long before our birth and will continue to do so long after our death.
Which death we should make special note of. Each of us was born, and therefore subscribed ourselves to entropy and deterioration. We will decay until everything is broken. We must. It is not that it is hard to resist, it is that it is impossible. We were born into it, and the frantic way in which we try to control this world only proves how fully we live under its fear, and therefore under its power.
Isaiah 2:22 (TLB)- Puny man! Frail as his breath! Don’t ever put your trust in him!
Job 38:31-33- Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth?

The Laws of the World Must be Fulfilled

But then, perhaps we aren’t as foolish as all that. Perhaps all of our hustle and bustle is due to a true intuition that burns inside. Even though this world is unfair, in our hearts we know that there should be order and balance. Even though others hurt us, in our hearts we know that there should be healing. Even though we let ourselves down, we know that there should be second chances. There is a seed of divinity in us, and it refuses to accept the terms of fallen mortality.
And this is not wrong. We were given that fire in order to seek our own better nature, and to be agitated into seeking salvation from our own brokenness. We just need to stop trying to save ourselves by our own power, and start looking for a method that actually works.
Jesus Christ is the mediator between the laws of the fallen world, and the divine law that burns in our hearts. He is uniquely capable to satisfy both without denying either.
And so, even though we will sin and that sin must be matched with damnation, Christ has already endured the depths of hell in Gethsemane, that law is therefore fulfilled, and we can have the second chance that our heart knows we should. And even though we will be hurt by others, which our mortal justice requires retaliation for, that retaliation is given to Christ instead, that law is fulfilled, and we obtain healing for our hurt and forgiveness for our hurter. And even though we will suffer sickness and death, Jesus has also endured that death, that law is fulfilled, and we will obtain a resurrection.
In this life, all the demands of mortal law have been fulfilled, and whether in this life or the next, all the expectations of our divine soul will be fulfilled as well.
Luke 4:18- The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.
John 16:33- These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Revelation 21:4- And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

The Captive Heart- Psalm 34:18, Luke 15:7, Matthew 5:3-6

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

COMMENTARY

The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart
Joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine which need no repentance
Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are the meek, blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness
Previously we spoke of how Jesus came to rescue the lost and the broken, and so long as we maintain that we’re “just fine,” there is very little that he can do for us. The Psalmist also recognized that the ones that the Lord is nearest to are not the perfect and seemingly well-put-together, but rather those with broken hearts and contrite spirits.
Indeed, Jesus goes so far as to say that there is greater joy in heaven for the lost soul that is saved, than for ninety-nine saved souls that were retained. He also specifically calls out blessings on the poor in spirit, the mournful, the meek, and the hungry.
The gospel takes the things that are paradoxes and contradictions in normal life, and makes them possible. And in the gospel, it is blessed to be broken.

Worthy Vessels- Acts 9:15, 1 Corinthians 1:28

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

COMMENTARY

But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me
When Ananias protested going to bless Saul, God informed him that the man was a “chosen vessel,” and indeed one can see how Saul would be considered a powerful asset to God’s cause. He was intelligent, effective, and tireless in his pursuits, even if those pursuits were momentarily pointed in the wrong direction.
And yet the man that Ananias found in need of a blessing must have been a far cry from the self-powerful tyrant that he had been afraid of. For at this point Saul had had his preconceptions of God shattered, been rebuked by the true Lord, completely blinded, and left to wallow three days and three nights without either food or water. In short, God had broken the vessel that Saul once was, and the “chosen vessel” that he referred to, was going to be a new creature. One that would be called Paul.

And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen
Paul himself later avowed that God did His work with the base and the despised, the humbled and the broken. He spoke of how the “foolishness” of God was greater than the wisdom of man (1 Corinthians 1: 25). He knew this because he had been directly at the receiving end of it! While still wise in the ways of the world, he had been broken by the same Savior he had voraciously denied. And now he had thrown in his lot with those that he once considered “base and despised.”
In short, Saul, the brittle vessel could not have done anything for God, only Paul, the humbled clay could. It has been said that God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called. He has no need for our power, only for our will.