Cal Thomas tells a touching story that recently occurred while he was on a vacation crossing the Irish Sea on a Ferry.
While having breakfast in the lounge he noticed a young father playing with son, who he guessed to about 3 years year old. “The child said ‘Daddy’ in tender and loving way that it touched my heart,” Thomas wrote. Then suddenly the child “became ill and started throwing up and crying loudly.”
“What happened next amazed me,” Thomas said. “The Father never raised his voice but began holding his son close even while the boy continued to be sick. He kept saying, ‘You will be all right.” Quickly the crew appeared and calmly and quietly cleaned up the mess and attended to the father and son.
While the little boy continued to cry, his father got his stuffed George doll for him to hug and held his son until he fell asleep.
“You’re a good father,” Cal Thomas said to the man. He simply smiled.
“It was a tender and teachable moment, Thomas reflected, “and it reminded me of one of the many ways God loves us…
“Maybe in this new year,” he opined, “we should be more tender and more loving to others, especially if we are Christians.
Our word of the week is “Tenderness.”
The father that Cal Thomas observed demonstrated and defined tenderness through his attitude and actions. Tenderness is expressed with warm and affectionate feelings. Tenderness is kind and compassionate. Tenderness shows its sensitivity and sympathy to others.
The apostle Peter exhorts, “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Peter 3:8).
The word tenderhearted is translated “pitiful” in the KJV; “kindhearted” in the NASU’ and “compassionate” in the NIV.
Dr. A. T. Robertson says this Greek word “is a rare and compound word” used only in this passage and in Ephesians 4:32. In describing the new person in Christ, Paul exhorts, “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Often we think of the primary definition of tender as soft, delicate, or gentle to the point of weakness. “To be tender, we don’t have to be weak, correctly observed Gary Henry in his Daybook, Enthusiastic Ideas. “True tenderness doesn’t indicate a lack of character or strength — it simply shows that a person’s strength has been trained and is under control. When we choose to deal tenderly with someone, we are disciplining our strength, holding it in reserve, and applying it gently, with a genuine desire to help as much as possible and hurt no more than is necessary.”
While tenderness is often equated with the interaction of two young lovers, or the treatment of a parent toward a child, it ought to be a quality for which all of us strive. Tenderness is being like Christ, who should be our model and mentor when it comes to treating others with respect, dignity, and charity.
It’s too easy to exhibit a hard-heartedness toward others we don’t understand, don’t agree with, or find annoying and irritating. Tenderness is needed when dealing with impetuous young people, with the frailties of the aged, and the weakness of immature Christians. And men, most of us could improve by expressing genuine tenderness toward our wives in our daily interactions.
When we find ourselves feeling bitter, resentful, or even indifferent toward others, remember that God has called us to be better than that. Open wide your heart. Show a little tenderness.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman