Ever think about those people who seem to have a thick skin? People who don't get easily offended. My friend Jim received some wisdom from the Holy Spirit on this. He told me that thick skin will keep wounds from penetrating our heart. I find that idea to be so fascinating. It reminds me of this verse in Proverbs 4:
"Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life."Developing a tough thick skin is a way that we can guard our hearts from the wounds that cause it to develop a hard crust. I read that having a thick skin is being able to withstand criticism. Ouch, I don't like that because I don't like being criticised ... I much prefer the idea of being able to withstand wounds - sound a bit more noble. Keeping criticism out of our heart is so hard because many of us are such people pleasers.
Love seems to be one of the ways to keep our hearts soft. Peter puts it this way in the fourth chapter of his first epistle:
"Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins."Over the past year I have developed a phrase that has helped me keep my heart soft. When I am hurt by another I will often say to myself: "I will not be offended!" I think that it is my way of letting love cover another's hurtful words ... even if those words are not intended to hurt ... even if the criticism is not sin. As I have said this out loud I have felt something strengthen inside of me.
In Matthew 18 Jesus speaks to us of forgiving from our heart. Ever wonder why he said it that way? I like to think of forgiveness as God's heart softener. When wounds, criticisms and sins make it past our skin and pierce our heart forgiveness can make our heart soft again. Forgiveness guards our heart and keeps it from becoming hard. This is why it is so important to forgive.
To keep our heart soft is to keep it pure. Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, said it this way:
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."The real issue of having a soft or pure heart is vision. A soft and pure heart will see God differently - clearer. The hard embittered heart is clouded at best and unable to see God clearly. You see, the heart is that place where we see God ... keeping it soft is the essence of knowing and seeing God in a wonderful way.