“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?” Philippians 2:1

Slide1I was at a meat market one time and watched as one of the butchers in the back was pounding away on a piece of meat. He wasn’t just touching it. He had a huge mallet and was obviously putting every ounce of energy into every swing. Once he finished, the piece of beef looked battered and beaten. “That,” he said looking up and catching my watchful eye, “Will be one tender steak.”

Later, as I sat down to dinner, I realized he was right. It was, perhaps, the most tender and tasty piece of steak I’d ever eaten.

Later, I sat down to read from the book of Philippians. This book has always amazed me because the Apostle Paul wrote it in perhaps the most difficult circumstances one could imagine. Philippians 2:1 jumped off the page as I read it. “Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate?”

What caught my eye was the question, “Are your hearts tender and compassionate.” In order to enjoy the steak I’d just eaten it needed to be beaten and bruised. I wondered, “Is the heart the same? Is the best way to get a tender heart is for it to be battered and bruised beyond recognition? Is that the best way for us to become truly palatable to those around us?

Further reflection tells me yes. When we are faced with trials and struggles, whether they are the result of our own stupid actions of the vengeful actions of others we have two options. When we come under attack we can either become bitter or tender.

When we come into a relationship with Christ, we must first come to grips with our own failure and the realization that our own strength offers no hope. That’s brokenness. When we come to this realization we can have a better grasp of the pain others are going through. Our own brokenness leads to tenderness.

We can not effectively comfort others until we ourselves have been comforted by the healing salve of Jesus love. Until we lose hope we can not be encouraged by the hope he offers. Until we realize our utter dependence on one another we can not sense the power of the Holy Spirit and its bond in our lives.

A broken heart is a tender heart. A tender heart is one that is attractive to others just as a tough cut of meat becomes a delicious meal. Jesus allows us to be broken because He knows we will never be tasteful until that happens.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help us to become tender and not bitter as a result of the trials we go through on a daily basis by strengthening us through your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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