Beware of the Spiritual Callus
Posted by July 24, 2018on
Calluses aren’t just on our hands and feet. Did you know that our minds can grow calluses too?
My little brother is musically gifted. Without learning how to read sheet music, he’s somehow mastered highly difficult songs on the guitar. He’s just got the ear for it, as most people would say. For him, understanding the basics—the names of the strings and how to strum—was never the difficult part of the learning process; it was mostly the pain that he struggled with.
I’m talking about the physical pain that comes from the steel strings of a guitar lodging deep into your fingertips every time you play. It’s the pain that makes beginners take a break every few minutes to nurse their tender, wounded digits.
For all you string-strumming musicians out there, I’m sure you remember just how painful it was to touch anything with your inflamed, pink, overly sensitive fingertips. Yet every aching strum of a chord brought you closer to the point when the pain would subside. Calluses would eventually be formed, and fingertip soreness would be a thing of the past.
Calluses, quite simply, are hard parts of skin. They are the product of frequent exposure to friction and pressure—and often appear as a thick, not-so-cute, discolored patch of skin on your hands or feet. Calluses serve as a defense mechanism for our skin. Their growth and development help numb the pain, allowing you to enjoy your activities without worry about more blisters and soreness.
Calluses are good then, right? Well, not always. Spiritually speaking, they are very bad. God warns His people to look out for a special type of callus, a callus that is produced through the frequent indulgence of sin—a spiritual callus. Allowing this type of callus to grow can be extremely harmful to our spiritual development.
Something to think about
Imagine if human beings never felt guilt or shame. Immunity to those emotions would block our ability to perceive the spiritual danger or harmfulness of a situation, and we’d end up engaging in all sorts of ungodly activity. We would never feel guilty or sorry for wrongs we did—which means we would be unlikely to repent of those things.
God designed the human mind to be capable of experiencing such emotions. God designed us with the ability to experience feelings of shame and guilt to help us perceive when we do something we know is wrong. It is called our conscience, and it warns us. It tells us, in essence, “Hey, you just made a serious mistake, and you ought to feel bad about it.”
The sad part is, we can train our minds to ignore those warnings. That’s the real danger of calluses—our minds can be dulled to the point that they can’t even recognize the severity of our sins. If we rationalize our sinful actions, convince ourselves that there’s nothing wrong with them and ignore the emotional warnings our consciences flood us with, we are at risk of desensitizing our minds. The author of Hebrews was inspired to admonish Christians against becoming “hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).
The truth about sin
Sin always promises more than what it really delivers. Under the guise of pleasure and happiness, it blinds us to the reality of how temporary those feelings are and the suffering that can come on ourselves and others afterward. If we allow ourselves to be deceived by sin, to fall under the impression that it’s not that bad, our minds will gradually become hardened. Thick, spiritual calluses will slowly start to form. With enough practice, we will jeopardize our ability to discern between right and wrong (Hebrews 5:14).
So, how about you? When you commit a sin, how does it make you feel? Does your heart throb with shame? Does guilt lodge itself in the corners of your conscience, weighing down your levels of productivity? Or do you just shrug it off with a careless, people-have-done-worse attitude?
God wants us to follow His method of removing sin and guilt through repentance, not to try to ignore guilt and become callous to sin.
For more insight on this topic, read “Avoiding Spiritual Calluses.”