It Takes a Tender Heart to reach a Hard Heart

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It Takes a Tender Heart to Reach a Hard Heart. In the book of Ezekiel, we read of God’s prophetic provision in Jesus Christ to remove the stony heart and to replace it with a tender heart of flesh.  Ezekiel 36:26 “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.” As a result, of this new tender heart God is able to lead again by His Spirit thorough the heart. He will then lead you to show compassion toward others.

Either you right now have a tender heart that qualifies you for reaching people who have hardened hearts or your heart is the mission field. The condition of the heart is very important to God and to the work of the Lord. It takes tender hearts to reach a hardhearted world.  God through the Holy Spirit will direct His people through their hearts. If God has the heart, He has the soul. The heart is the trigger to the soul. The soul comprises of the mind, the will, and the emotions. The heart causes the mind to think, the will to want, and the emotions to feel.  The heart then will negotiate with the soul causing the soul then to submit to the Spirit, (what God, wants, thinks, and feels). The soul will not do what the heart will not convince it to do. When the heart rejects the Spirit’s influence, the Bible calls this condition, the hardening of the hearts. Hebrews 3:7-19 “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.”

Tenderheartedness is the opposite of hardheartedness. Those who have a tender heart have a heart full of love and the obedience of faith which is submission to the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:30-32 “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby we are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice (enmity of heart): And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ sake hath forgiven you.” The 1828 dictionary defines tenderheartedness as being very susceptible of the softer passions of love, pity, or kindness. The Strong’s Concordance renders the definition of tenderheartedness as sympathy, pity, or bowels of compassion. I John 3:17 “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” In other words, one who has a tender heart will be susceptible to the softer passion of love, kindness, pity, and forgiveness toward other even in times of personal sorrow rather than yielding to the harder passion like bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour (making demands), and evil speaking.

One of God’s many potential emotions to our actions is compassion. Psalm 111:4 “He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.” Psalm 112:4 “Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.” Psalm 145:8 “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” As God is full of compassion, He wants us to be full of compassion as well. When our hearts are tenderhearted, our actions will reflect His compassion. Tenderheartedness and compassion are twins. They are two sides to the same coin. The definition of compassion is the willingness to suffer with another. Compassion is two passions combined which are love and sorrow. Compassion is the willingness to love someone, even if that someone has done something that causes you or themselves sorrow. The prodigal’s father is a great example of expressing love to his son even when the son caused him great sorrow. Luke 15:20 “And he arose, and came to his father.  But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.”

It took a tenderhearted father to rightfully influence a hardhearted prodigal son. It takes a tender heart to reach a hard heart. If your heart is compassionate toward others, it is because someone with a tender heart has influenced you. The world is full of hardhearted people only hardening each other’s hearts. The most tenderhearted people are to be God’s people. Many of our RU students have not had much contact with tenderhearted people. God can reach more hard heated people if we would only allow God’s heart of compassion to influence our sometimes self-centered, hardened hearts. It is God desire that His compassion flow though us and influence others.

The earthly ministry of Jesus was filled with external expression of inward compassion.  Jesus is the most tenderhearted person that anyone can know. The compassion of Christ is evident in Matthew 9:36-38 “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” God has never had a problem generating a harvest. His problem has always been a workforce. God needs labors with tender hearts, who look upon people with compassion, not regarding them less in the light of what they do or omit to do, but more in the light of what they suffer. True compassion is your hurt in my heart that affects my hands to be led to make a difference. Compassion is love in actions.

The greatest demonstration of Jesus tenderhearted ministry was seen in His crucifixion.  Luke 23:33-35 “And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots. And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.” Jesus willingness to forgive on the cross shows how tenderhearted He truly is even in the midst of His own personal suffering. He entered our world, our suffering, and our pain to love us and redeem us. It is the tenderheartedness of Jesus that the Holy Spirit uses to breaks the barrier of hardened hearts. This is the power of the Gospel. Likewise, it is the tenderheartedness of Jesus that Peter saw in the face of his own denial that crushed his hardened heart. Luke 22:60-62 “And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

Another example of tenderheartedness effective in ministering to hardened hearts is concerning Paul the Apostles conversion. In the book of Acts, Stephen, a godly deacon and evangelist was being stoned to death by Jewish religious leaders. If you remember, it was the hard hardhearted Saul of Tarsus, that consented unto this death. Stephen looking up into Heaven, and supernaturally given a glimpse into Heaven and seeing the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, said with a tenderheartedness, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this he fell asleep.” It was Stephen’s tenderheartedness, that I believe, God used to crush Saul’s hardheartedness and would eventually be the pricks he kicked against that would soften Saul’s heart to receive Jesus and His forgiveness on the Damascus road, recorded in Acts 9.

The degree of exposure to Jesus tenderheartedness will be the degree of compassion you show toward others. It is having a continuous relationship with His tender heart that cause our hearts to remain tender. What the world needs is more Christians that have compassionate hearts. Jude 22-23 “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Without compassion, you will not make a difference.  Only the tenderest of hearts can reach the hardest of hearts.  There is no heart tenderer than Jesus is. There is no one who cares for your soul like Jesus. The more you spend time seeing and knowing Him the tenderer, your heart will become toward the needs of others. As your heart becomes tender, Jesus calls you to have compassion for others!

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