The Condition of Your Heart Determines the Condition of Your Mind.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

heart in hands

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

To be tenderhearted is the character quality that is slow to judge and quick to embrace. It speaks to how we relate to one another in our day-to-day relationships, especially in how we deal with conflict or disagreements. I like to think of it as the ability to always believe the best about someone, even if they do not give you a reason to. A large part of a pastor's time is devoted to conflict resolution. Not a week goes by that someone is upset at someone else because they did or said something or failed to do or say something. In my thirty years of experience, I have discovered that the overwhelming majority of these conflicts are the result of simple misunderstandings. The person who got upset fell into the trap of believing the worst about the other person. They assumed something that was not true and it led to hurt feelings. We human beings are quick to judge and slow to embrace which is the opposite of what Peter is calling us to. Christ-like character leads us to respond the opposite of how we would naturally respond in the flesh.

One Sunday morning my father was walking from his office to the sanctuary as he did every week. After preaching the message and spending time praying for people at the altar he was greeting members as they left. One woman with a very stern look on her face approached him with her finger pointed at him and said, "You walked right past me this morning and didn't even shake my hand. I'm never coming back to this church again!" She never did come back. She decided that her pastor was a rude, uncaring, and insensitive man based on something he did, or actually failed to do. What she did not know was that my father had been in his office on the phone with someone who had just lost a loved one and needed the comfort of her pastor. Now he had to completely switch mental gears and quickly go the sanctuary to preach to his congregation with a very heavy heart. This angry woman was quick to judge my father and assumed the worst rather than believe the best about him and it led her to leave her church. She was anything but tenderhearted. She was hardhearted. Unfortunately, this scenario and many others like it happen in churches every Sunday morning.

The condition of your heart determines the condition of your mind. If you are tenderhearted then your mind will be controlled by your character rather than your emotions. If you are hardhearted then your mind will be controlled by your feelings rather than the truth. I believe that the mind is the barometer of what is in the heart. What we think about reveals where our heart is set. If I tend to think the worst about someone then I am hardhearted. If I tend to believe the best about someone, even when they are at their worst, then I am tenderhearted. Paul speaks about this in Philippians 4:8–9. He says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." That is good advice that will dramatically reduce the conflict in our lives and in our churches. The promise is those who think this way will be rewarded with God's peace. If you want to enjoy God's peace, you must become tenderhearted. Without a tender heart, there can be no unity.

This is an excerpt from my eBook, Living the Transformed Life, which is available on Amazon.com. Click on the thumbnail to the left to buy a copy today.
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