[Papercut Press] 2003-09-23 - Eoo'splangkh-os

Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

The word in the topic is a transliteration of the Greek word in the above verse that is translated either tenderhearted or compassionate. However, the word doesn't really mean that. It is just how we translate it. You will be surprised to know, I imagine, that the word we translate tenderhearted really means, "Having strong (or healthy) bowels." So how in the world do we get tenderhearted from that?

It seems that the inward organs were considered in the past to be the place where the emotions were located. This is why we can translate the word as tenderhearted. We find the word again in 1 Peter 3:8. "To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit." In the Hebrew we find a very similar word in 2 Chronicles 13:7, Rak lay-bawb'. In this passage we learn that the son of Solomon, Rehoboam, was tender of heart. This word however has more of an implication "weakness" or being "faint." In the New Testament the concept has more of the implication mentioned above, namely "compassion."

However, we see the compassion of the Lord mentioned in the Old Testament. In Psalm 25:6, we read, "Remember, O Lord, Thy compassion and Thy lovingkindness, for they have been from of old." Over and over we see in Scripture that the Lord is kind and this kindness is because of His love to us as His children. God's compassion and tenderness should transfer to our compassion and tenderness towards each other. It is something that we learn from the Lord, but also something that we are to apply to our conduct. This is the meaning of the New Testament usage of the term and our admonition is to apply this to our lives.

Another concept that this word implies, that may hit home even more, is that a tender heart is a heart that is easily affected with God's law and cannot endure what is sinful. So a tender heart is not only one that is compassionate towards others, but also one that is hurt deeply when it falls into sinful practices. We can see this in 2 Chronicles 34:27 where the people's hearts were tender and they humbled themselves before God.

Kindness and tenderness are really ways of showing affection. As brothers and sisters in Christ we ought to be showing these characteristics towards each other. When we get to eternity we will all have regrets as to how we have treated each other. The compassion of Christ is something we can never equal, but we should seek to follow His example as best as we are able.

"Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." Joseph Joubert

"Kindness is a hard thing to give away. It keeps coming back to the giver." Ralph Scott

Soli Deo Gloria,
T-

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