There is something inherently attractive, winsome, and endearing about a “tender heart!” People are drawn to that kind of person. Even God finds a tenderhearted person attractive! On the other hand, evidence of a “hard heart” is repugnant, repelling and even revolting. Hardhearted individuals tend to push others away – to repel them… They even push God away!
Here’s what I read in the Bible this morning on the subject…
“As the Holy Spirit says, ‘Today, if you hear His [i.e. God’s voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion’… Take care lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God! But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin… As it is said, ‘Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion!’” (From Hebrews 3:7-15; quoting Psalm 95:7-11)
So what can harden a heart? My experience and the clear teaching of Scripture points to at least four things: First of all “sin” (in this passage it’s called “the deceitfulness of sin). Self-will can also harden a heart – just insisting on your own way and will. Suffering, if we are not careful, can harden our heart toward God – we become embittered. And finally, just the “stuff” of life can harden our hearts, much like a callous hardens skin to pain.
What I guess is needed is “a tough hide and a tender heart!” I need a tough hide that doesn’t take circumstances and offenses that may come my way personally. But I also need to maintain a tender heart toward God and others.
I’ve got to tell you, I want to have, and maintain, a “tender heart!” I want a heart most of all that is tender toward God – His will for my life, His voice within my heart, and His dealings in my life! He is my loving “Heavenly Father” and He works in my life for my benefit and disciplines me to form His character within me! (See Hebrews 12:5-11) Oh, Lord, soften my heart! …And only God can do it! (Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:25-27) And help me guard my heart in order to maintain a “tender heart” toward You and others!