A Tender Heart vs. A Bitter Heart
Definition of a Tender Heart
A tender heart is a forgiving heart. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32) Refusing to forgive an offender produces a hard, bitter heart….
A hard heart and a tender heart are both described in the following passage.
But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (James 3:14-17)
How to develop a Tender Heart
- Picture the holiness of God
When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, he exclaimed, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” Isaiah 6:5b
- Contrast your sin with the wrongs of offenders
A person becomes bitter toward offenders by magnifying their faults and offenses. However, when you compare their offenses to the willful sins you have committed against a holy God, you will have nothing to say other than what the publican in the Temple said: “God, be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13)…
- Experience the mercy of the Lord
The parable of the wicked servant should also motivate you to contrast your sins against God with those of your offenders and show God’s mercy. (see Matthew 18:21-35)….
- Fully forgive all offenders
To gain a tender heart, you must forgive all offenders. God further mandates that this be a sincere, full forgiveness from the heart. (see Matthew 18:34-35)
- Discover why God let it happen
Bitterness blind’s a person’s ability to forgive offenders or God for what happens to him. However, Scripture states that “all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). This even includes offenses. In order to understand how things work together for good, you should identify benefits that God intended to come from the offense…..
Questions About Why God Let It Happen
- What character qualities can you learn from this offense?
- How will this offense help you become more like Christ
- What “child training” does this achieve in you?
Often, people’s offenses against you result from your own failures. The resulting wounds from others are God’s way of chastening you. (see Hebrews 12)
I do want to note that I think this only applies to SOME offenses. Being raped or molested, for example, would NOT be a way that God would use to discipline His children!!
- How can this offense prepare you to help others?
Another reason God allows offenses is to give you comfort and counsel that you in turn can share with others who go through similar trials. (see 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4)
- How will this trial prepare you for leadership?
Well…we have now reached the end of my “Journey Lessons” entries. I hope you enjoyed and learned much from them. As with all my blog posts, I love to receive comments on what you thought about them, so please leave some feedback 🙂
God Bless you all!