I am blessed to be inspired through an organization in Israel that promotes the revival and restoration of God's chosen people, according to prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments of our Bible. This organization's newsletter declares that there is a change in the spiritual climate in Israel as more of that nation [which is largely secular or Orthodox Jewish] are becoming both tender and hungry for Yeshua's return.
There has always been a huge [and bitter] divide in Israel between those who recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and those who deny faith [the secularists] as well as those who vehemently deny His identity as the Anointed One of Israel [the religious orthodox Jews]. Sadly, I see bitterness and division raising its ugly head in our own country, too. So, a statement in the latest newsletter I received from Israel has me searching my heart and seeking the Lord. The statement read, It's so tough to stay tender in this harsh world. My immediate response was, "I agree! This world seems to have become increasingly harsh".
But the harshness is not just relegated to those who are different from us. Even within the Christian community, I see growing harshness and unmerciful conduct towards one another. Sadly, I find that too many of us have become callous and mean-spirited in our interactions. I believe it's time that we asked ourselves what it means to "stay [Biblically] tender" amidst the severe and intolerant cultural, political, and religious climates in the world. So, I'd like to invite you to come with me on a journey through the Bible to see what our God has to say about being tender, and tender-hearted.
I readily discerned that tender was a condition of the heart. As I meditated on Luke 1:78 and Zechariah's prophecy over his son, John the Baptist, I saw the condition of God's heart: "And you, child ... because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” It was on God's heart to rescue His people from the darkness of their souls and spirits and bring them into His Light. When we walk in His peace, we exhibit tenderness to the world. The condition of the heart is also apparent in Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you".
It also became clear to me that being tender is a process that comes from the "inner man", rather than outward appearances. The Bible tells us that "as we think in our heart, so are we" (Proverbs 23:7). So, if we are to be tender (or compassionate, caring, kind, gentle) in a harsh world, then the condition of our heart determines our ability to think, desire, speak, and act in tenderness. What is sown in our heart will be apparent in our thoughts, words and actions. If the love of Christ is seated firmly in our heart, then we will manifest tenderness for all to see.
But Strong's Concordance also revealed that the Hebrew word lebab may also refer to the seat of rebellion and pride that sits in the heart of man ... God said, "for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth" (Genesis 8:21). This results in a hard heart, rather than a tender one. And if the "natural inclination" of our heart is towards evil, then our only hope to be tenderhearted is found in God's promise to replace our heart of stone with a new heart. So, we pray, "Create in me a clean heart, Oh God" (Psalm 51:10), and cry out, "Direct my heart to fear Your name [with awe-inspired reverence and submissive wonder]" (Psalm 86:11).
Whatever is in the midst of our heart will effect our thoughts, and our thoughts will effect our words and our actions. Because the Enemy is intent on obstructing that flow of Christ from our inner man to our outer behavior, we must be on alert to establish Jesus as Lord of our hearts. Our very lives flow from our heart, and the devil seeks to kill, steal, and destroy that relationship at the very seat of our being.
While I agree with the statement that it is tough to stay tender in this harsh world, I know that it is possible when I let the love of Jesus rule everything in my life. So, let us enter this holiday season with Jesus's love guiding us and leading us. Begin to practice tenderness and watch how fast Jesus and the Holy Spirit will help you to continually possess it. I bless you with rivers of living water flowing from grateful and tender hearts! May Jesus rule forever on the throne of your heart!
1 Peter 3:8 "Finally, all of you be
like-minded [united in spirit], sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted
[courteous and compassionate toward each other as members of one
household], and humble in spirit..."