For The Kingdom: Joy-Filled Living In Difficult Days | Day 17
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Philippians 2:1-2
Have you ever had someone say something extremely insensitive, perhaps even cruel, only to follow it up with the words, “no offense?” “You are really not wanted here… no offense.” “Your ideas are awful… no offense.” Of course, when you take offense, the response is, “don’t be so sensitive!” In the NIV translation of this passage, it describes this fourth benefit of unity with God as “tenderness and compassion.” God offers us this to us as a gift, both for our own woundedness, but also that we might pass it on to others.
4 Benefits to Unity with God –
- Encouragement in Christ: Do you need to be comforted or spurred on? (See Day 14)
- Comfort from His Love: Love is not the absence of expectations, but the absence of strings. (See Day 15)
- Fellowship with the Spirit: Intimacy with the Triune God is stimulated by fellowship with the Holy Spirit. (See Day 16)
- Tenderness and Compassion: What does it look like when a man is tender? Is he a whimpering mound of emotions? No, not in the slightest. The word “tenderness” expresses an ability to be sensitive to or keenly aware of the needs or feelings of others. These days, sensitivity gets a bad wrap- especially among men. Give a man a list of 10 admirable characteristics and ask him to select 9 of them. The one that gets left off is likely tenderness. Like meekness, tenderness is misunderstood and under appreciated in our current culture. Yet Jesus, was gentle, meek and tender… without compromising his bravery, conviction or boldness in the very slightest.
People can be hurtful, cruel and uncaring. At times, even at our best, we can offend or wound others unintentionally. Yet, at the hem of Jesus’ garment, the foot of the cross, and in the garden of the empty tomb, Jesus remains a tender savior for the weak, lonely and afraid. When Jesus looks on us in our spiritual shambles, he is not indignant and disgusted, but instead he is filled with compassion, because we are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36). This tender compassion marked Jesus’ ministry to us, and it should be a defining trait of how we minister to one another as well.
Would you like some free ministry advice that may save you an incalculable amount of pain and confusion? “Ministry requires a thick skin and a tender heart.” This is poignant wisdom that we far too often get regrettably reversed! Too many of us, serving in ministry, carry on with thin skin and a hardened heart. We are sensitive to our own feelings and calloused to those around us. This is a recipe for a lot of hurt and a very short run in ministry.
In the same manner as Christ, God wants us to develop in us a holy mix of toughness and tenderness. Jesus was tough. He took a lot of personal attacks, criticism and mischaracterization, but never veered from His course. Yet in Jesus’ single minded determination, He was never so focused on His end goal that He lost His ability to empathize with others with gentle care. Tenderness leads to compassion. Compassion is an emotional response to the needs of others that leads to selflessness and service.
When you experience unity with Christ, it changes your attitude.
You become an encourager, not a critic,
You become a comforter not a jerk,
You become a peacemaker, not a troublemaker,
You become thoughtful, not thoughtless.