What Does “Tender-Hearted” Mean?

What Does “Tender-Hearted” Mean?

*This article can be found here on Crosswalk in its entirety.

Christians can sometimes have the tendency to be “hard” hearted. The other day I was scrolling through social media and realized I had just read three very devastating news articles in row. My heart wasn’t even moved a bit. I didn’t feel sorry for those people. There was no emotional response. 

This isn’t how Christians are to respond to sad news. Instead, Paul says we should, “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV) and Peter echoes this thought in 1 Peter 3:8, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” He uses the word “compassionate” but it is the same word Paul uses in Ephesians for “tender-hearted.”

How should Christians act?

Ephesians chapter four contains Paul’s teaching on how Christians are supposed to act. Then he spends the first few verses focusing on how the church should be unified. Our goals, habits, and passions should all align with Christ and God’s will. We may look different, act different, and see the world differently, but we all come together for God’s will. Paul ends that section in Ephesians with verse 16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” We are to work together to build up each other in love. 

The next section, Ephesians 4:17-32, zooms in to individual believers and how we can build up each other in love. So Paul moves from the collective church to the people who make up the church. He speaks about how we should renew our minds, curb our anger, and seek to love one another. 

Deeply-rooted Tenderheartedness

At the end, Paul sums up everything with verse thirty-two. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” The word “compassionate” is our “tender-hearted” word. It is a Greek word that means “love coming from deep inside us.” 

This tender-heartedness is not surface-level feelings nor is it fleeting puppy-love. We do not feel a surge of sympathy, and then it passes. It is deep. It is rooted in our very spirit. This kind of compassion lingers. 

The dictionary definition for “tender” means to be “delicate or soft.” In our age of internet and social media we have the ability to become overwhelmed with the amount of sorrow in our lives. We can be bombarded with heartbreaking news 24/7 if we want. If we are consuming all of this bad news, we might have the tendency to set up a barrier to keep our hearts safe, because being tender hurts. 

Paul encourages us, as Christians, to not only be “tender-hearted” but to do it to fellow Christians. Although we can look at our world and easily be jaded, that isn’t what God has for us. Especially when it comes to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, we must remain tender-hearted.

How do we do this? Paul helps us ,…. Read the rest of the article here.

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