Small Group Studies

A Stubborn Heart


All of us want to have growing, thriving relationships. For those who are married, we want to have strong, steady marriages that point the people around us to Christ. The question is, how do we get there? How do we have these kinds of relationships and marriages that are healthy and constantly growing and pointing those around us to Christ? Today, we are going to look at one of the threats that wreaks havoc on our relationships, especially our marriages, a hard heart, and learn what to pursue instead of a hard heart.


What causes the most conflict and division in relationships? 



Bible Study

  1.   What are the side effects of having a hard or stubborn heart, particularly on our relationships?
  2.   Read Matthew 19:1-12. Summarize Jesus’ teaching about marriage in this passage of Scripture.
  3.   How does having a hard heart, such as Jesus described in Matthew 19, impact relationships, especially marriages?
  4.   Read Ephesians 5:21-24. How are followers of Christ called to treat each other, especially husbands and wives, in this passage of Scripture? 


  1.   After reading Ephesians 5, what is God’s purpose for marriage?
  2.   When it comes to your relationships, what is going well? What needs improvement?
  3.   What does it look like today to have a "hard heart," like Jesus described in Matthew 19, and how can we fight against that?



Take time right now to pray as a group. If your group consists of members who are married, pray for your marriage. Pray that God would soften hearts that need to be softened and bring healing in areas that need healing. Pray that their marriages would be strengthened and that they would point others straight to Christ. If your group consists of single people, share a relationship (or two or three) that needs strengthening. When everyone has shared, pray together. Pray that God would work in the relationships that were shared and soften hearts, making each one of us quick to forgive and show kindness. Pray that the way you all love the people around you would show others the love of Christ.


During our Bible study time earlier, we talked about hard or stubborn hearts and how they destroy relationships, especially marriages. Living this way is not the way Christ-followers are called to live. The question is, how do we let go of hard, stubborn hearts? Let's take a few moments to turn to Scripture to look at attitudes to pick up that will help us to let go of any hardness and stubbornness in our hearts.


Unforgiveness toward others creates stubbornness and hardens our hearts. When we refuse to forgive, we hold on to anger and resentment. This, my friends, is a surefire way to destroy relationships. If we want to soften our hearts and have stronger, healthier relationships, we have to choose forgiveness instead.

  1. Read Ephesians 4:31-32.
  2. What is our motivation for offering forgiveness, according to this passage of Scripture?
  3. How will being quick to forgive lead to softened, less stubborn hearts.
  4. Is there a circumstance where you need to be quick to forgive instead of holding on to unforgiveness?



In order to let go of hard, stubborn hearts, we need compassion. After all, when we are thinking about others and have compassion toward them, it is hard to hold on to stubbornness and maintain a hard heart. Imagine how our relationships would be impacted if we chose compassion instead of stubbornness and a hard heart.

  1. Read 1 Peter 3:8.
  2. Summarize how Peter calls Christ-followers to live in this passage of Scripture.
  3. How does taking on this spirit of compassion lead to softened, less stubborn hearts?
  4. Do you find compassion to come naturally, or is it something you have to work toward?



It is impossible to have a hard, stubborn heart when you have joy. Joy gives us perspective. It helps us respond with love and kindness instead of stubbornness. Joy causes us to have gratitude and recognize the blessings God has given us all around us. If we want to let go of our stubborn hearts, we need to choose joy.

  1. Read Proverbs 17:22.
  2. Compare and contrast the cheerful, or joyful, heart versus a "broken spirit."
  3. How does joy lead to softened, less stubborn hearts?
  4. How can you practice having a joyful spirit?

Pair up into groups of two or three. When you are divided up into groups, share with your group one area where your heart has become hardened. Maybe your heart has become stubborn by unforgiveness. Maybe your heart has become hardened by self-centeredness. Share that area with your group. When everyone has shared, pray together. Pray that God would help each of you let go of hard hearts and choose forgiveness, compassion, and joy instead. Commit to praying for each over the next week.


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But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves James 1:22