“Having a Heart For God” is the theme of the VBS here at the Wellandport church in Ontario, Canada. It’s published by “Shaping Hearts.” And based on the life of King David the one who God said was “a man after MY own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Ax. 13:22).
Since I’m teaching the adult class, I want to share some thoughts this week about this vital topic. Yesterday, we discussed a caring heart.
David often spoke of Jehovah’s “tender mercies” (Ps. 25:6; 40:11; 51:1; 69:16; 79:9). They are displayed in God’s loving kindness in patience and longsuffering with our failures and foibles. His forgiveness. His grace. His blessings, both materially, as well as spiritually. His understanding and feeling for our fleshly frailties.
David, likewise, was tenderhearted. There’s no better illustration than in his sin with Bathsheba. Paradoxically, the man after God’s own heart fell prey to lust and committed adultery. Yet, when confronted with the reality of his transgression, David simply confessed, “I have sinned against the Lord” (1 Sam 12:13).
Unlike King Saul who made excuses for his transgressions by blaming the prophet Samuel, or blaming the people, David took ownership of his own wrongdoing. We see his contrite heart as he fasted and prayed when the baby was born with an illness. Following the child’s death, David did not blame God, but instead “went into the house of the Lord and worshiped. Then offered comfort to Bathsheba (1 Sam. 12:15-22).
Psalms 51 and 32 reveal David’s tender heart as he begs for God’s forgiveness and exposes his innermost feelings of contrition.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
–Ps. 51:1-4, ESV
Both Paul and Peter in the New Testament command Christians to be tenderhearted.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (1 Pet. 3:8).
The word tenderhearted is translated “pitiful” in the KJV; “kindhearted” in the NASU’ and “compassionate” in the NIV.
Tenderheartedness elicits emotions like David’s when we violate God’s Word. Our heart hurts because we know we hurt God. We feel remorse, shame, and guilt. We don’t excuse ourselves. Or point accusing fingers at others. Like David, we step up. We own up. And we fess up.
Furthermore, tenderheartedness is feeling people’s pain and empathizing with their problems. It is allowing your heart to feel sorrow, sympathy, and compassion for another’s sorrow.
There are many ways we can demonstrate Tenderheartedness to others. People need prayer, encouragement, and thoughtful offers to lend a hand when they are feeling physical pain. Assistance when experiencing financial crisis. A tender touch when enduring emotional suffering. Shared sorrow when grieving over the death of a loved one. And a strong spiritual shoulder to lean on when being assaulted by Satan’s temptations.
Tenderheartedness is a choice. We can either be tough or tender. Caustic or kind. Cruel or compassionate. Callous or considerate.
Being tenderhearted requires us to see with God’s eyes. Feel with God’s heart. And follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the perfect epitome of Divine tenderheartedness.
In the words of Robert Frost, “There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman