Fresh Hope – 17th July 2018

A couple of years ago I thought I would make my husband a steak. I had had very little cooking experience at this point and assumed that cooking the perfect steak simply involved going to the meat aisle in the supermarket and picking up a large chunk of meat and frying it at home. I later leant that there are different types of steak and the meat packaging specifies what the steak is best used for and how long is takes to cook. I had unknowingly picked up a steak labeled ‘casserole steak’. In other words, it was best for sitting in a slow cooker for up to 8 hours in order to become tender. What did I do? I fried the casserole steak for about 10 minutes. What did my husband do? Chewed till his jaw almost dropped off! The meat was far too tough to be eaten, let alone enjoyed. Lesson learnt.  

There is something special about tenderized meat. Meat that is soft, slow-cooked, has taken time to prepare, drops off the bone, and melts in your mouth. The Bible speaks a lot about keeping our hearts in a healthy place. One of the markers of a healthy heart is if it is tender. A heart that has been protected from the hardening factors of the world, and that has spent time with God is a tender heart.

Ephesians 4:31-32 says, Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, TENDERHEARTED, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

There are many small opportunities in the day for us to either toughen our hearts, or to put it in the slow cooker of God’s love.

Maybe you want to do something, but you know you shouldn’t. You ignore the inner voice of your heart, because you don’t feel like doing what it says, all the while toughening your heart. Perhaps you are scared and overwhelmed so you let fear come in and harden your heart in order to protect yourself. One of the most common heart-tougheners is anger and offence. In anger or offence you build a case against someonepassively punish them, or cast judgement. On the other hand, a heart kept tender calls to love, forgives, and shows grace.  

Like a pair of teeth trying to chew through a tough piece of steak, not much can get through a tough heart. Sensitivity is lost. We can no longer form relationships easily with others, we struggle to hear the voice of God, we don’t have the compassion to love others anymore, and we stunt our growth because we are no longer malleable.

Let’s be proactive about keeping our hearts tender before God. Be ruthless in recognising offence and fear when it comes up in little moments throughout the day. Spend time in the presence of God, allowing Him to tenderise your heart again.

Proverbs 4:23

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Emma Burchell

A daily devotion for a better way of living.