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A tenderhearted person lives a blessed life; a hardhearted person lives a hard life.

Proverbs 28:14 MSG

Growing up in a comfortable upper middle class neighborhood, the only pain I experienced was self-inflicted – either through sports or my own adventurous hyperactivity and curiosity. However, that all changed the day my parents informed me they were separating. That day, my world turned upside down. It was the first time that I had real life issues and I had no idea how to handle how they made me feel. I did what most boys my age did – stuff my feelings and deny I had them. I never talked about what my family was going through and made sports my outlet and my sanctuary.

The day my parents informed me they were separating was the day I chose to harden my heart. It was also the day I chose to live a calloused life. That choice set a precedent for how I handled all future experiences of disappointment, setbacks, and difficulties. Looking back now I know that the scripture in Proverbs 28 is true… a hardhearted person lives a hard life.

It wasn’t until years later when I studied the Bible that I learned the true message of the cross. The message of the cross helped me overcome my calloused heart that lived solely for myself and taught me to have a compassionate heart that cares for others and wants to make a difference in their lives.

Harden to Handle

Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone
and refused to repent.

Jeremiah 5:3 NIV

When your goal is to avoid feeling pain, you will harden your heart every time you experience adversity.

Question: What are areas of your life that you’ve chosen to harden to forget?

The Compassion of the Cross

He had much pain and suffering. People would not even look at him. He was hated, and we didn’t even notice him. 4 But he took our suffering on him and felt our pain for us. We saw his suffering and thought God was punishing him. 5 But he was wounded for the wrong we did; he was crushed for the evil we did. The punishment, which made us well, was given to him, and we are healed because of his wounds.

Isaiah 53:3-5 NCV

The transformative power of the cross can turn a calloused heart into a compassionate heart. Jesus absorbed our pain so that we could let go of our pain. He forgave us for what we’ve done so that we can forgive others and ourselves. He dissolved bitterness so that we could let go of the past. He defeated death so that hope in our hearts could be resurrected.

Cross Conscience

I have been crucified with the Anointed One—I am no longer alive—but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God’s Son, the One who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me. 21 I can’t dismiss God’s grace, and I won’t…

Galatians 2:20-21 VCE

Is the cross personal to you? Is your heart moved when you consider the cross? If not, than you need to sit down with someone who knows the Bible that can help you understand the cross. When you understand the cross your conscience becomes sensitized.

The Cross: Compels

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 NIV

The Cross compels us to live for others. How “others” focused are you? Do you spend a considerable amount of time thinking about how to help others or are you plagued by the disease of me?

The Cross: Changes Your View

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

2 Corinthians 5:16-1y NIV

The cross will change your view of people. No longer are people seen as threats, opponents or objects, but rather opportunities to care.
Question: When you see people, what do you see?

Cross: Now, not Tomorrow

As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 NIV

When you’re grateful for the cross your attitude is now, not tomorrow. Although there is rarely a convenient time to care, compassion will ask what can I do today? Callousness doesn’t believe there is time to care.

Compassion: I am Willing

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. 41 Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” 42 Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

Mark 1:40-42 NLT

Compassion says I’m willing… callousness says I’m not capable. It doesn’t take any skill, talent, or experience to care. Compassion is not a question of capability, but a question of willingness.

They have closed their unfeeling heart [to kindness and compassion]; With their mouths they speak proudly and make presumptuous claims.

Psalm 17:10 AMP

Are you willing to feel for others or is your heart closed by callousness?

Compassion: Action

But whoever has the world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? 18 Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].

1 John 3:17-18 AMP

Compassion takes action. It is easy to believe that feeling for a person is compassion. This scripture helps us to understand that true compassion takes action. Who has God put in your life that you should care about? What will you decide today to do to put your compassion into action?

Written by

Brian Nitta

Before Brian was a minister for the Bay Area Christian Church, he was a world class judo competitor from San Jose State University. His experiences as a fighter and as a counselor have given him a unique perspective that he brings to his contributions to Inspire.