Summary: An examination of a badly needed quality that is often lacking, even among believers--sensitivity to the needs of others.
Try a Little Tenderness
Have you ever wondered how it is that two children can grow up in the same home with the same set of parents, raised in the same level of love and yet, be so different?---like the man who had a dog that was a loyal, faithful member of the household for 13 years; but the pet’s health had deteriorated so much that the only kind thing to do was to put her down. The family agonized over having to do that. They postponed the day repeatedly. Eventually all the members of the family except the dad had to go out of town for some occasion and he decided to take the dog to the vet. As he drove to the vet’s office, she crawled up on the seat, and put her head on his lap. It was really hard to take her into the office. After the vet put her to sleep, he went back out to the parking lot and sat for a long while before he returned to work.
He and his brother worked together. When he walked into the office, his brother asked where he had been. After telling what had happened, his brother said, “You paid a vet to put the dog to sleep? You should have brought that dog to me. I would have knocked it over the head and taken care of it—no problem”
Two brother with the same parents and similar upbringing, but one is tenderhearted and the other is callous and insensitive in spirit. By now, I’m sure you are thinking that it’s all about temperament. But I believe it goes, much deeper than that. I believe we’re in the realm of the spirit of a person.
Paul says in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” For many, that’s not an easy command to follow. They don’t come by it naturally. One can see this in public places like airports and shopping malls. An elderly woman is struggling with luggage or packages, and a steady stream of able-bodied people pass her by. Some even scowl and say, “Get a move on, Grandma.” And then a tenderhearted person happens along and takes time to help her out.
There is a tragic story about Lenin that persists to this day, revealing much about his inner soul. Vladimir Ulyanov was born in 1870 to a family that would suffer many tragedies in the years to come. Later, he used the pen name Lenin to promote his revolutionary ideas. He wrapped himself in his revolutionary work until he lost almost all capacity for human tenderness. Those about him said he was a most miserable man. Although married, Lenin gave little love to his wife. One night she rose, exhausted from her vigil beside her dying mother, and asked Lenin, who was writing at a table, to awaken her if her mother needed her. Lenin agreed and his wife collapsed into bed. The next morning she awoke to find her mother dead and Lenin still at work. Distraught, she confronted him and he replied. “You told me to wake you if your mother needed you. She died. She didn’t need you.”
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus pointed out that being religious is no guarantee of being tenderhearted. The priest and the Levite passed the injured traveler on the other side of the road because they didn’t want to get involved. But a Samaritan gave assistance because he had a tender heart.
Reason Why Some Are Tenderhearted or Callous
2. family background
3. life’s experiences
4. God’s workmanship
Both tenderness and toughness are important character qualities; both are necessary sides of love.
This message is for those of us who are naturally on the tougher end of the spectrum—the Rambos. If we want to be like Jesus, we need to learn to be kind and tenderhearted.
The Tough Guy’s Dilemma
Hard-hearted Christians can do a great deal of damage. We kid people that we shouldn’t kid, and when they get hurt we say, “Can’t you take a joke?” We don’t listen to people very well. We’re quick to speak, to judge, to criticize. We’re short on sympathy, tears, and patience. We view tenderhearted folks as emotional weaklings. But deep down in we know its not right. We’re too cold and callous. There are time when we don’t like ourselves.
How can we be more tenderhearted? What practical steps can I take to relate to people in a more tender, kind fashion? As I see it, there are three steps we can take: (1 to see with God’s eyes, (2) to feel with God’s heart, and, (3) to treat people as Christ treats us.
1. SEE WITH GOD’S EYES