"Be Ye Tenderhearted"
Here is one of the great basic truths of Christianity.
The Christian has Christ as his life. Christ is all, not simply
is his (or her) all, but Christ is all. There is no true Christian
character at all in our life except only as Christ, who is our
life, produces it. The stream flows out in our manners and actions
but the spring is Christ Himself, who is our life, dwelling within
the heart by faith. Therefore it goes without saying, that this
life in us should be characterized by that same divine tenderness
that was ever seen in Him as He walked down here in this scene.
What is this list here--bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness
of mind, meekness, longsuffering, forgiveness, love--if not a
perfect portrait of Christ? And this is presented here as being
what the Christian is to put on and display in his walk and ways,
for Christ is his life. It was natural for Christ, for it is His
nature. It is not natural in the Christian; it is something he
has to put on by surrendering himself fully to Christ and allowing
Him to manifest His own character of divine tenderness in and
It is much easier to convince one of his natural
sinfulness than to convince one of his natural hardness and utter
destitution of heavenly and divine tenderness. The very essence
of the new life is a divinely imparted tenderness and sweetness
of spirit. Without this, even the most strict Christian life is
a misrepresentation of Christ, who is our life. Even among intensely
devoted Christians, nothing is more rare to find than a continuous,
all pervading spirit of tenderness.
Tenderness of spirit is preeminently divine.
It is not the delicacy and soft sensibility of a mere gentle make-up
which some persons naturally possess, neither is it the
courtesy of manner which results from high culture and beautiful
social training, though these are valuable in life. It is a supernatural
work throughout the whole spiritual being. It is an exquisite
interior fountain of God's own tenderness opened up in the inner-man
inundating the soul, saturating the manners, words, and tones
of the voice: refining and moulding the whole being after the
image of Him who was infinitely meek and lowly in heart. It cannot
be borrowed, or put on for special occasions; it is emphatically
supernatural, and must flow out incessantly from the inner fountains
of a life of intimate fellowship with our meek and lowly Lord
Without this Christ-like tenderness of spirit,
the most vigorous life of righteousness and good works, rigid
purity of morals, missionary zeal, profuse liberality, ascetic
self-denial and blameless conduct utterly fail to display the
spirit of Christ.
It is impossible to see the infinite excellence
and necessity of real heavenly tenderness of heart unless it is
specially revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. What inexpressible
tenderness and gentleness of nature were always seen in Christ.
What beauty is to the rainbow, what perfume is to the rose, what
harmony is to music, all this and much more is what tenderness
of heart is to Christianity.
Without tenderness of heart, the most intensely
righteous and devoted life is without beauty and attractiveness.
It is possible to be very, very devoted, staunch, persevering
in all Christian duties, bravely defending the truth, mathematically
orthodox, blameless in outward life, and very zealous in good
works, and yet to be greatly lacking in tenderness of heart that
all-subduing love, which incessantly showed itself in the eyes,
voice, and ways of the Lord Jesus.
Many Christians seem loaded with good fruits, but
the fruit tastes green; it lacks flavor and mellowness. There
is a touch of vinegar in their sanctity. Their purity has an icy
coldness to it. Their personal testimonies are straight and definite,
but they lack that tenderness of love. Their prayers are intelligent,
and strong and pointed, but they lack heart-piercing pathos. They
speak eloquently and explain with utmost nicety but they lack
that love that sighs and weeps,--that all-consuming love.
Real tenderness of spirit is seldom acquired except
through suffering. It matters not what shape the trial may be,
whether an unutterable sorrow for sin, or extreme poverty, or
great physical pain, or relentless persecution, or the wear and
tear of a thousand daily annoyances, or the agony of unrequited
love, of life-long loneliness, or heart-breaking disappointment-these,
or any other forms of sorrow, may be the means of producing in
a soul that is in communion with Christ this heavenly tenderness.
Divine tenderness of heart has a behavior which
is heavenly. It feels for the poor, seeks to deliver the oppressed,
enlightens the deceived, lifts up the fallen, restores the erring,
recovers the straying. It instinctively avoids wounding the feelings
of others. It cannot scold, or scowl, or threaten, though it will
not fail to give an earnest and loving warning or reproof when
necessary. It does not quarrel. It instinctively buries and forgets
all bad things. It feels all things from God's standpoint, and
lives but to receive and transmit the spotless sympathies and
affections of the Lord Jesus. It understands the words of the
Holy Spirit, "Be ye tenderhearted, forgiving one another."
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger,
and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all
malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given
Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling
savor" (Eph. 4:31, 32; 5:2).
Again it enters into the feeling of the Apostle
when he entreats the believers, "I therefore, the prisoner
of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith
ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering,
forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity
of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:1-3). Tenderness
and gentleness are the characteristics of the new nature. Lowliness,
forgiving, and forbearance are the behavior of the divine nature
so fully manifested in Christ. "He that saith he abideth
in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked" (1