Scriptures, the very Word of God contained within the Bible, are an amazing thing, inspired by God; written by men under inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As such, the Holy Scriptures are like no other written word, even commentaries and other writings of godly men and women over the ages. For only the Scriptures were God-breathed. No matter what you think of other writings, no matter what impact they may have had on your life, or the lives of people you know, nothing has the impact of the words contained in the Bible. I would argue that those other books may be excellent, but are as effective and life changing due to the counsel, guidance, wisdom and inspiration those writers pulled out of study of the Word of God. But that is not I would have us focus on today. What I find as one of the truly amazing things about the Bible is how the Word of God can change us. I find it can tenderize us while at the same time it can toughen us.
The tenderizing effects of the Word of God:
Deep and thoughtful study and reading of the Bible, and meditation on the Word of God can tenderize your heart for the things of the Lord:
Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh – Ezekiel 11:19
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. – Psalm 51:10
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart – 1 Peter 1:22
The Word of God can tenderize our hearts by turning them to the things that the Lord loves, turning them to consider doing things that are within the Lord’s will for our lives. The Word of God can make us see the world as Christ sees it, and make us want to be more Christ-like in our approach to the world. His Word can make our hearts break for those who do not know the Lord, those who are living in defiance to the Lord, either willfully or oblivious to His purposes and desires. A heart which is broken for the lost is a heart tender in the Lord and in His Word. Someone who is in the Word regularly, studying it, wrestling to understand it and apply it in their life will have a heart tenderized to the deep things of God, with a desire that mirrors His, concerned for the world and for His children within it.
The toughening effects of the Word of God:
While the Word is tenderizing the heart of those who immersed in it, a toughening of that heart is occurring at the same time:
Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart, All you who hope in the Lord. – Psalm 31:24
Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. – Hebrews 13:9
By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before Him. For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. – 1 John 3:16-23
The heart strengthened and toughened by the Word of God. Not toughened in the sense of being inured to the sufferings and needs of those around us, but toughened and strengthened to be bold in sharing the Word, in proclaiming the Gospel; bold in showing Christ to the world and living in the world as He did. Being bold as the apostle Peter was in Acts 2:14-39, Acts 3:11-25 and Acts 5:29-32 (this time with other apostles); bold as the apostle Paul was proclaiming in Romans 1:16-17 and preaching in Acts 17:22-34. These were instances of preaching and proclaiming Christ with toughened hearts, with hearts that were bold enough to speak the Truth, hearts that toughened enough not to quail at the possible consequences of doing the Lord’s will and speaking the truth in love.
Let the Word of God tenderize and toughen you:
While none of us should think of ourselves as a Peter or a Paul, we have the very Word of God, some penned by these two apostles inspired by the Spirit. It is available to us to draw upon and tap into, to give us a love for the things of God and the boldness to go about our daily lives unafraid to speak of our love of God, our love of the things of God and our desire to know nothing among others but Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2).
Tenderized and toughened, in Christ and working through the power of the Spirit, by study and living out the Word of God.