Bonded | Devotion #3: Tender Heart
James Clouse | Student Pastor
To be tender-hearted means to be “easily moved to love, pity, or sorrow” according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. Why is this a must within a family? Is being moved to sorrow or pity a good thing within our family? I want to look at this in two different ways.
I was reading an article by John Piper that talked about being tender-hearted; he mentioned praying for tender-heartedness as well as being firm and resilient. I believe that both of these things are important when it comes to a family. This can be seen in the story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve both sinned in front of God. God had a tender heart and spared them their lives yet still punished them for their transgressions.
How can we have this same balance in our homes? How can we show a tender heart to our spouse and children and yet still make sure that we are firm and resilient when we need to be?
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
As a family, we cannot let the sin of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, or slander poison our homes. Malice can cause friction within the home that not many things can heal other than the love of Christ. By being tender-hearted in our home, we are showing that we are allowing Christ to change the hearts of our homes.
It is easy to love our children. But is it always easy to love them when they are not listening? When your teenager does not listen to your advice on friends or relationships, is it easy to feel pity for them when things go wrong? No. But when we are allowing Christ to change our hearts, then those things become easier. Remember that God first forgave and had pity and sorrow for us and it becomes easier to provide that same thing for our family.
In saying all of this, I do believe that we also need to show firmness and resiliency in our homes. I believe that our culture sometimes shows too much tender-heartedness and not enough firmness. When our kids or students are misbehaving or not listening it can be easy to be manipulated into showing too much mercy without accountability. This can lead to enabling. We have to remember that while God was tender-hearted with Adam and Eve, they did not go without their punishment. But the key to doing this is doing it in love. Do not show wrath in your punishment. Do not let bitterness eat away at your relationships. God was still with Adam and Eve outside of the garden even in their punishment.