Many of you may have a meat tenderizer in your drawer. Meat tenderizers are used to pound meat to make them more tender to chew. Pamela Gwyther in the Beginner’s Cookbook states, “Tenderizing meat with the mallet softens the fibers, making the meat easier to chew and to digest. It is useful when preparing particularly tough cuts of steak…”
You might be asking yourself right about now, “What does this have to do with my Christian walk?”
Each of us in born in sin. We are told this in Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.
Romans 5:12 says – Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
And Romans 3:23 tells us – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
All of us are sinful and all were born sinful. Sin makes us hard. Sin makes us tough. In our sinful nature, it is easier to be critical than loving. In our sinful nature, it is easier for us to complain than give praise. In our sinful nature, it is easier to say bad things about someone than to build them up. Sin makes us hard and tough and in need of tenderizing.
When Jesus comes into our lives, we don’t immediately become a picture of love and harmony. Each day of our lives it should be our duty to become more like Christ. This is known as the process of sanctification.
One of the attributes for which we must strive is tenderness.
Ephesians 4:32 says – Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Colossians 3:13 instructs us with these words – Bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Forgiveness is a sign of a tender, loving heart. Have you ever met a loving, forgiving person who did not possess a tender heart?
Ezekiel 36:26 says this about our hearts – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. God takes that tough, stone like heart and turns it into a tenderized heart of flesh.
Having a tender heart is vital in our mission to deliver the gospel to others. If you tell someone about Jesus in a harsh and bitter way, that message might be just too tough for the listener to accept.
On the contrary, if you give the message of Christ in a tender, loving, and hopeful manner, the message might just be tender enough for the person to digest. No unbeliever is going to eat and digest a message brought to them by someone with a heart of stone.
In Luke 1:76-79 Zechariah made this prophesy prior to the birth of his son, John the Baptist – And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
Our sins are forgiven because of the tender mercy of our God. If God has tender mercy, then is this not something that we too should strive to attain?
Tenderness is important in our relationships. Tenderness is important to our witness.
But being tenderized is not always easy. To tenderize a piece of meat it must be pounded. Sometimes God allows things in our life that feel like a pounding. When assailed with a life-threatening illness we can feel as if we have been pounded to our knees. When someone close to us dies, we can feel as if life is pounding us day after day. When one of our children strays from the truths you have taught him or her the pounding of life can seem unbearable. But in each of these times of difficulty, in each of life’s pounding moments, God is tenderizing us.
God uses these seasons in our lives to fill us with more mercy and more compassion for others. Allow these seasons to shape you and mold you. Allow these seasons to tenderize you. The tender you will be much easier for others to swallow – you can count on that!