The Cure for a Shriveled Heart

"Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you.”— Colossian 4:12-13

“Wrestling” in prayer describes a man who cares. Epaphras isn’t one of the better-known first century Christians, but he deserves special mention as one of the caring, hard working friends of Paul.

Walking with the Lord and serving other people in His name can be emotionally risky. You develop something of His heart for others, which translates into deep concern and caring. You will be drawn into others’ lives, rather than sitting on the sidelines watching.

“To be a true minister to men is to accept new happiness and new distress,” wrote Pastor Phillip Brooks. “The man who gives himself to other men can never be a wholly sad man; but no more can he be a man of unclouded gladness. To him shall come with every deeper consecration a before untasted joy, but in the same cup shall be mixed sorrow that was beyond his power to feel before.”1

God will enlarge our hearts to love more, care more, serve more. But some of us prefer the safety of a small heart; it minimizes sorrow.

If your ambition is to avoid trouble, the formula is simple: minimize entangling relationships. Don’t get involved or give too much of yourself, and avoid trying to impact the world. You just might avoid a multitude of afflictions and protect that shrinking heart. (You also might start resembling the Dr. Seuss character, Grinch.)

Or, you can allow God to enlarge your heart and trust Him with the consequences. You can open yourself to others, serve, love, be available, and “wrestle in prayer” like our friend Epaphras.

But I should warn you. You will become vulnerable to sorrows scarcely imaginable to a shriveled heart. You will care more than you want, and you will open yourself to others’ pain. Asking for wisdom can help you do this in a healthy, godly manner.

You will also experience deeper, more satisfying joy than a shriveled heart can imagine!

It just might be the difference between living too carefully, and being truly alive.

1. Phillips Brooks, Phillips Brooks Year Book: Selections from the Writings of the Rt. Rev. Phillips Brooks(Leopold Classic Library, October, 2016) p. 265.

 

Ray Bentley