We are exhorted to be tenderhearted in Ephesians 4:32: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” We see it again in 1 Peter 3:8: “Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous.”
Though all Christians are called to be tenderhearted, this quality is generally cutting with the grain with women. “Mother love” is sensitive, gentle, full of pity, sympathetic, forgiving and so forth. Women are generally good at these things, showing mercy, anticipating needs, extending comfort, and multitasking all of it. No one needs to tell a mother to love on her baby unless she is a hardhearted woman.
This kind of love is not sentimental, cutsie love. That kind of love can’t go the distance. Sentimental love is about the warm feeling I get when I do nice things for others; it is not really about the others. Jesus was not getting good feelings when He died on the Cross. Far from it. Real tenderheartedness is sacrificial, like Jesus’ love for His bride.
Jesus describes His love for Israel this way: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37). This love is sacrificial in hostile conditions, not just an affectionate feeling. This is like a hen protecting her brood from the attack from some predator. This love lays its life aside for others.
God is restoring His image in us, making us like Jesus Christ. Though we may be have some natural inclinations toward tenderheartedness, sin disrupts and hardens us. But God can and does restore us, and He give us the means to be tenderhearted toward one another when we don’t really feel like it. Like when we are weary or needy ourselves. This kind of love extends itself until it is completely spent. Only God can create that kind of love in our hearts.
Every home needs a tenderhearted woman in the center of it, even if you live all alone. Ask God to give you a tender heart. Excel in this! Back to 1 Peter 3:9: “Knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.”