Tender Heart

1 Peter 3:8 – Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous. (NKJV)

For the past few weeks, I have felt the Lord speaking to me on the subject of having a tender heart. At first, I didn't understand what this meant, so I have been praying and searching the Scriptures to help me figure this out.

Along the way, two sayings found their way into my day, via social media:

Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.
Words can hurt or heal. What did yours do today?

As I pressed in during my prayer time with the Lord, I was reminded of the Care Bears from the 1980s. Each bear had a name and a badge on its tummy. I felt led to look up the Care Bears, and there I found that their leader is named Tenderheart Bear. It was this bear with the red heart on its tummy that I felt the Lord had led me to. Still not sure why, I rested, knowing that He would reveal His message to me.

Recently on the ride home after a meeting in which my words were not well chosen towards someone, the Lord spoke to me again about a tender heart. Later, I shared with another person that I had apologized to the person after my outburst, and the other person said that it is good to be transparent. Then today as I was working on this devotional, another person, who had no idea what I was experiencing or working on, sent a text that said, "Praying the Lord continues to soften and open your heart."

I hadn't even realized that my heart was hard or at risk of hardening. I surely am grateful that the Lord intervened on my behalf.

Luke 6:45 – The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (NIV)

Then I got it! My words on the outside reflect my heart on the inside, but I need to be transparent for change to happen. I know that Jesus our God has a tender heart, as is evident in the Scriptures, and it is my heart's desire to be more like Him.

Psalm 28:7 – The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (NIV 2011)

1 Thessalonians 3:13 – May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (NIV)

I want to be a vessel for the Lord, and I have come to learn that due to my sin nature, I need to be corrected. I can't think of a greater way to be corrected than with Jesus in my heart!

Are we being vessels of the Lord to one another on our life's journey? If it takes a visual picture of a "belly badge" on a Care Bear to help remind me, then I am all for it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we thank You for the ways that Your Spirit speaks to us. We are open and willing to hear You through whatever means You choose to get our attention. Help us to rest in You, to seek You for the answers, and to be open to the form in which they are sent to us. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Julie Bowles