Tenderness

And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God. – Ezekiel 11:19-20

How would you rate yourself when it comes to tenderness? In Christian circles we often talk of love, patience, kindness and even humility, but how often do we examine the tenderness of our hearts?

As we continue the tedious process of unpacking our house, yesterday we were so grateful to have a sweet teenager watch the kids so Matt and I could have some focused time putting things in order. It was a long day for Jackson and Lauren, and by 2 p.m., they were cranky. But, as I discovered, it was mostly because they missed their parents.

I took a break to put Lauren down for a nap, but what she really wanted was some snuggle time with me. So we rocked together for awhile as she smiled, until she was ready to get back at it and play. Then I walked into Jackson’s room, and knew I needed to take a longer break from the housework than I had intended. I asked him if he’d like to spend some time cuddling, and that’s all he needed to jet out of his room and jump into my arms. We spent time together talking and giving each other hugs. Finally, his sleepy eyes got too much for him, and he decided it was time to take a nap.

Children need tenderness. They need people who will pay attention and listen to their needs, and respond accordingly. They need unabashed love and time given, parents who have a sensitivity to their feelings and body language cues, and will provide what they need most in that circumstance.

This passage in Ezekiel describes the people of Israel as having “stony, stubborn hearts.” They’d become insensitive to God’s desires, only paying attention to their own needs and wants.

Take a close look at your heart. Are you tender to God’s Word and His people? Are you willing to spend your time loving others, or is your schedule one that cannot be interrupted? Are there people in need, inside or outside the church, that God has made you aware of their circumstance, but you have held back and not met those needs? Are your passions God’s passions? When was the last time you remember the Holy Spirit prompting you about something or someone? Did you act accordingly?

These verses revealed to me this morning that in many areas my heart is soft, but in many other areas it is rocky. Are you the same?

It’s time for us to give God free reign to examine our hearts and the authority to replace our stony, stubborn places with tender responsiveness. I want to please God, and truly be His and He mine.

Pray with me today that God will give us a singleness of heart and renew our spirit.

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