“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.”
“Tenderhearted” comes from two words good and guts. This word literally means “good guts or inner bowels!” Obviously this is not the meaning here. The figurative and true meaning is good heartedness or good emotions.
The Greek world used this term for the seat of emotional life. “Good heartedness” moves us to meet the needs of others. God does not want us to relate to others with a hard heart. He wants us moved by the pain of others.
What are good emotions? Good emotions are emotions influenced by the mind that submits to the Word of God. When emotions influence our understanding of the Word then distortion of the Christian life will occur.
When emotions operate properly, they appreciate or respond to God’s viewpoint and the Christian way of life. Emotions are the responder of the soul. If we are going to enjoy our emotions, we must orient to the biblical viewpoint of life. When emotions control truth then we will distort life. The whole issue is which controls which. If emotions control the mind then we are in danger of instability. If the Word controls our minds, then God gives us orientation to life. One is stable and the other unstable.
Tenderhearted is the relationship between a person who orients to God’s way of thinking and how that influences emotions. Biblically, the mind influences emotions, not the other way around. When emotions influence the mind the believer develops weakness in his soul.
Tenderheartedness is a grace attitude toward God’s family.
Our emotions appreciate the best of life based on who God is. Therefore, we must channel our emotions through the Word. The only way we can understand the essence of God is by the Word of God.
Emotion is no criterion for the Christian life. How we feel does not determine truth. We are not Christians because we feel saved. We are not spiritual because we feel spiritual. Emotions are simply the vent of our attitudes. Our status before God depends on what God says, not how we feel.
Are you cold hearted? Are you callused to the pain of others? Do you have the ability to imagine yourself in someone else’s shoes? Can you put yourself in his place? This is the eye that can see the unseen. Some of us have lost our capacity for compassion. We are immune to the needs of others. Just as medical doctors become hardened to the pain of his patients so Christians can become numb to the pain of his fellow Christians.
We can lose the ability to feel pain in someone else’s heart. Due to exposure of so much grief through the media, we blunt our minds to the needs of others. When we hear daily of tragedy and suffering of humanity, we simply lapse into sloppy sentimentalism that simply feels for a moment the heartache of others.
We live in a sophisticated society where everyone develops a rhinoceros hide. We do that because of the dog-eat-dog world we in which we live. That is the kind of hide we need for the office. We need that to survive. The law of the jungle prevails there. It is every man or woman for themselves and the devil take the hindmost.
That kind of society pervades our thinking and we bring that attitude to church. We are not as tenderhearted as we should be. We are hardheaded instead. Our heart does not beat in harmony with God’s heart. If our heart did, more of us would send get-well cards to the sick. Most of us do not have time for others. Why wait until someone lands in the hospital to send them a word of appreciation?
Tenderheartedness is at the very essence of who God is. His tender heart sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins. Only the overflowing love of God and the ability to identify with pain will give us a tender heart.