When I think of thick skinned animals I think of the pachyderms: the rhinoceros, hippopotamus and the elephant. But the giraffe has thick skin too, up to 7 inches! They need that thick tight skin on their lower extremities to maintain high extravascular pressure on their weight-bearing blood vessels. The pressure of that thick skin works just like a pilot’s g suit!
Today’s verse commands us to be tender-hearted. This seems like the exact opposite of being thick skinned! If we are tender towards others than we can be kind and we can be compassionate. But if our hearts are tender for this purpose, than our hearts may also be vulnerable to attack. Having a tender heart means we could be hurt, which is why the next words are about forgiveness. But whether or not we are hurt, it is a tender heart that can offer forgiveness.
When I have a tender heart towards others than I feel their hurts. But then I feel my own as well. It would be so much more comfortable to be thick skinned and avoid emotional hurts. Those insults, name calling and gossip do not feel so good. But the wonderful part about having a tender heart is that I can realize Christ’s forgiveness for me! Not only can my tender heart experience His complete pardon, but I can extend that forgiveness to others. When I close my heart against the one who hurt me, developing “thick skin,” I am less able to feel God’s unconditional love for me. Having a tender heart has a price but not as high as the cost of thick skin!
Lord, keep me tender-hearted!