Wanted: Tender Hearts

Sunday, August 27, 2017
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Recently, I did something unusual. I wrote to a media commentator appealing for mercifulness in his rhetorical style. I offered this reason: Our adversarial world desperately needs moral exemplars — those who consistently exemplify the tender qualities of mercy. This person, I felt, could rise to the challenge. I believe that such an appeal also needs to be made to professing Christians. Tender-heartedness is, after all, the fruit of spiritual maturity.

Ephesians 4:32 – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (NRSV)

We need tender hearts in a world dominated by the abrasive qualities of hardened hearts. A tender heart is soft and sweet, like ripe fruit, which leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth. In truth, wherever there are Christians, there's always plenty of fruit, but it's unripe, not yet tender. We bite into the fruit and discover it to be hard, bitter, and unappealing. These Christians may be good people, devoted and respectful. They may even preach eloquently; their prayers may be intelligent. Yet, they lack the mellow quality of tenderness.

A tender heart is acutely sensitized to God. It breathes in the passionate love of God and emanates His all-subduing, all-melting grace. It knows the heart-wrenching sorrow of the dying Jesus. A tender heart gushes with the groans and tears of compassion. It burns with consuming love. It throbs with empathetic mercy and forgivingness.

A tender heart doesn't wound another through insensitive comments or argumentative subjects. It isn't quarrelsome. It can't even be that way, because that is outside its nature. It has lost the power to dominate, scold, or threaten. Yet, the tender heart is possessed with mighty power. It can convey a point by seemingly permitting its opponent to win.

These portrayals of the tender heart are not my own. They are drawn from various sources. I could not have come up with this! But I can now see how deeply I fall short. I realize that tender-heartedness is an outgrowth of trials and testings. It is the handiwork of God's Spirit in our hearts.

We will often find ourselves tasting the bitter fruit of hardened hearts. Yet tender fruit is around, too. A sensitize palate will catch its subtle qualities in another. When you do encounter it, be sure to pick, taste, and enjoy! Let it nourish your own soul. After all, it is meant to be shared.

Philippians 2:1-2 – Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. (NIV 2011)

Prayer: Dearest Lord, develop in us a palate for the sweet taste of tender-heartedness, and fan its lush qualities within our own hearts. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    May it be so, Diane.

    Good to hear from you, and learn from you!

    Beautifully written from a loving heart…thank you.

    Thanks Diane for this thought provoking devotional. Blessings.

    Beautiful! Yes! And a tender heart is not maudlin or weak-willed. Quite the contrary.

    Always enjoy your words, Diane.

    Beautiful Diane.
    In this harsh world, this message is sorely needed

    Thank you, Diane. The Lord truly spoke to me through your words tonight. I am blessed by your thoughts and will try to live up to what you recommended. Thank you and God bless!

    Dear Diane,
    I always appreciate your devotionals so much. Thank you for these thoughtful comments about mercy.

    Thank you, Diane, for a very touching reminder to us all. We do so often fall into the trap of hardened hearts and their resulting harsh words. You have very eloquently described the tenderhearted antithesis for which we all should strive. I always enjoy your relevant messages. Blessings.

    Wow Diane!
    This is so ‘spot on.’
    How easy it is to not allow so many of the Bible truths to penetrate deeply.
    Thank you for this one.

    Dear Diane,
    Thank you ever so much for the devotional you prepared for today. I have forwarded it to my own family and my minister as I REALLY appreciated it. If only .. yes, let us all work very hard at being the tenderhearted beings our Lord wants us to be and our world needs us to be. Thank you, Diane, for letting yourself be an instrument in God’s loving hands.

    Diane, you’ve done it again!! It’s a good thing that we cannot be perfect and yet our Lord loves us unconditionally. How would we make it without His promises? I know that I can’t take advantage of them if I am not totally committed to Him. Thank you so much for your “lesson” on this Sunday morning when I couldn’t get to church. You are a good friend the has brought into my life. God loves you and so do I.

    Hi Diane, I loved your devotion and was reminded of when my daughter was a child and they had the Care Bears. There was one named Tender Heart. I had thought they would make great illustrations for children’s stories tied to scripture and we have the example of Jesus himself.
    When I went through a very difficult situation that has not gone away the words of wisdom given to me by a minister I spoke with was to be gracious and kind and those words stuck with me. The situation made my heart break but in the breaking I became more tenderhearted. The Lord is still working on me.
    Thanks for the devotion. Blessings.


    Amen Diane, may such a heart be our prayer.

    Thank you. We need to remember this constantly in these tumultuous times.

    This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing these observations.

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