Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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The other day, a young believer asked me how it happens that some people redevelop a hard heart after Jesus washes them from their sins and gives them a tender heart. The answer is so simple that it is often missed. I told him that a child of God could re-harden his heart by mowing the grass or painting the house, or by going to work, or by washing the car, or by taking care of the kids, or by cooking supper, or by watching television. Jesus said that some of God's children would lose their souls, not because of immorality or base cruelty, but simply because of giving inordinate attention to "the cares of this life".
The "cares of this life" are not wicked things; they are ordinary things, things that are done in the normal course of living. But when we neglect the need of our souls while doing those ordinary things, our hearts become hardened against God again. One need not return to the vile filthiness of past sins to redevelop a hardened heart. One need only neglect spending time in prayer with God, or reading the Scriptures, or showing mercy toward those in need, while carrying on what the world would consider to be a normal, healthy lifestyle. Simply caring for the good and normal things of this life will bring about a dullness of heart toward the Spirit of God. That is the way of the world. This hardness toward God may happen slowly, but it happens surely when any one of God's dear children gives too much of his attention to natural, earthly things and neglects the weightier matters of the kingdom of God.
In his gospel tract on Prayer, my father mentioned the pitfall of a believer neglecting prayer because of earthly pressures and responsibilities. He said that those who do spend enough time in prayer have just as many earthly responsibilities as anyone else, but because they realize the importance of spending time with God, they make time for God in their busy schedule. If a wise virgin neglects anything, it will be something earthly, not his contact with Jesus.
Hmmm . . . maybe the saving difference between a wise and foolish virgin is that a foolish virgin gets every earthly thing done that the world approves of (including religious activities) while a wise virgin gets every spiritual thing done that God approves of.