Chapter FIVE: Tenderhearted and Tough Skinned

Written by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

I like this to a phrase my pastor often used when I was a teenager. He said that most people tend to have hard hearts and thin skins, but we as followers of Jesus should be different. Instead, we should be tenderhearted and tough skinned.Such wonderful advice. When we harden our hearts and let every little offence poke a hole in our happiness, we only hurt ourselves. We are slurping on a smoothie of poison and don’t even know it. But when we soften our hearts with love for others, and toughen our skins against their barbs, we are better equipped to show the compassionate love of Jesus to a watching world.” — Karen Ehman, Keep It Shut, pg. 93

Believing the Best
The paragraph just above the quote I shared with you is such an important perspective to live by. Karen shares a rule that Lysa TerKeurst has implemented in the offices of Proverbs 31 Ministries and it goes like this: “…When a conflict arises or our feathers get ruffled, we shouldn’t automatically jump to the conclusion that the other person meant us ill, but give them the benefit of the doubt. Not assume the worst, but believe the best about their motives.

Now, I don’t know about you…but there are days when I have trouble with believing the best about people even in the absence of conflict. There are just some people who’s personalities do more colliding with mine than meshing, you know? That doesn’t mean that I ever blurt out the worst that my heart conjures up. But, that’s just it. My heart has conjured up the ugliness, and the ugliness is not righteous or Godly.

I know I need God’s strength and help to overcome those thoughts and help me to work towards having a heart that instead believes the best. And, I believe it’s that simple. The bible says that Jesus is as close as the mention of His name. (Psalm 145:18) When I recognize that my heart is believing the worst, I will ask God to help turn my thoughts to the best instead.

We Must Be Diligent to Weigh Our Own Hearts
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
In addition to calling on Jesus when we recognize that our hearts are producing things that are not Godly, we must do our own homework as well. We must, must, must guard our hearts. What we consume when we eat affects our physical bodies. In the same way, what we are (or are not) consuming in our spiritual lives affects our hearts. It is imperative that we spend time each day with the Lord, making every effort to guard our heart. What flows from my heart is certainly indicative of what I have been putting in to it.

Give Grace to Those Who Speak Ill of Us
“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” – Colossians 4:6
If you’ve believed the best but the worst has still been the reality — please, give more grace. It feels backwards, I understand that, but it is truly what the Lord requires of us. And, Jesus lived this example beautifully time and time again. It’s not easy, but it’s so worth it.

If you can’t remember anything else from today’s message, remember this: Just give grace.