“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 NKJV
I am naturally hard-hearted. Those who know me personally may take issue with this statement, but they do not see the inner workings of my soul. Even I do not fully understand myself. But it is true that when this hidden realm of my inner life is laid bare to God, it desperately needs His softening.
Most recently, my heart hardness was revealed to me as unconcern. I read the indictment of the Israelites and her neighbors by the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel and saw myself reflected in this uncaring way of seeing those around me: “They were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16: 49 NIV)
“It is much easier to convince a human soul of its natural impurity, than to convince it of its natural hardness and utter destitution of heavenly and Divine tenderness. The very essence of the Gospel is Divinely imparted tenderness and sweetness of spirit. Even among intensely religious people, nothing is rarer to find than a continuous and all-pervading spirit of tenderness.” (Springs in the Valley by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman)
Ouch! That’s me! I am “intensely religious” and I need sweetness of spirit.
So God touched my heart. I had a “Grinch “moment – it was exquisitely painful and pleasurable to have God tenderize my heart. It was a miracle.
Do you remember the Grinch’s story? It shows the power of heart change.
My friend Cindy and her college friends ignored a dorm fire drill because the old cartoon was airing on television and they couldn’t tear themselves away from the climactic moment:
“And what happened then…? Well… in Who-ville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day! And the minute his heart didn’t feel quite so tight, he whizzed with his load through the bright morning light and he brought back the toys! And the food for the feast! And he… HE HIMSELF…! The Grinch carved the roast beast!” (How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss)
As Mrs. Cowman writes, tenderness of spirit “is a supernatural work throughout the whole spiritual being. It is an exquisitely interior fountain of God’s own sweetness and tenderness of nature, opened up in the inner spirit to such a degree that it completely inundates the soul.”
God is tenderhearted.
This is how He wants to make us.
I want more of it!