Applying the Character Quality of Sensitivity

Sensitivity vs. Callousness

3 min

Sensitivity is being aware of the pain in others because of the healing we have received from God for similar hurts.

The Biblical word for sensitive is tenderhearted. Scripture instructs us: “Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

The Greek word for tenderhearted is eusplagchnos. It comes from eu, meaning “good, well,” and splagchnon, which literally means “spleen” or “intestine.” Figuratively, it means “pity or sympathy, the source of inward affections such as kindness and compassion.”

Eusplagchnos is translated pitiful in I Peter 3:8: “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous.”

One Hebrew word for tender is rakak and means “to soften.” The antonym of tenderheartedness is hardheartedness. The psalmist wrote, “Harden not your heart, as in the provocation” (Psalm 95:8). This instruction is repeated by the writer of Hebrews. “Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:8). “While it is said, To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation” (Hebrews 3:15).

One Hebrew word for harden is qashah, which means “to be dense, tough, severe; to be harsh; to make burdensome; to be stiff.” The Greek word for harden is skleruno, meaning “to become obstinate, stubborn; to make hard.”

How Did a King Develop Sensitivity?

Josiah was only eight years old when he became King of Judah. The biography that God wrote of his life concludes with an amazing tribute: “And like unto him was there no king before him, that turned to the LORD with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; neither after him arose there any like him” (II Kings 23:25).

According to the record, the key to his greatness was his tender heart. The account also explains how he developed it.

According to the record, the key to King Josiah’s greatness was his tender heart.

He purposed to please God.

God’s summary of the life and ministry of Josiah is this: “He did that which was right in the sight of the LORD” (II Kings 22:2). As a boy, Josiah set his heart to follow the Lord in the same way that Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself by participating in heathen customs.

He chose a Godly role model.

It would have been easy for Josiah to follow the evil ways of his father and grandfather. Instead, he chose to walk “in all the way of David” (II Kings 22:2). King Josiah used David’s life as a pattern for righteous living, because David was known as a man after God’s own heart.

He kept his focus on the Lord.

Josiah maintained Godly balance in his life as he diligently followed the Lord. He “turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (II Kings 22:2).

He restored the place of worship.

In the eighteenth year of King Josiah, he began a program to renovate the Temple and restore the worship that was prescribed by God to take place in it. He began by collecting an offering “to repair the breaches of the house” (II Kings 22:5).

He humbled himself when he heard the Word of God.

In the process of repairing the house of God, a copy of the Scriptures was discovered and read to King Josiah. “It came to pass, when the king had heard the words of the book of the law, that he rent his clothes” (II Kings 22:11).

He acknowledged the iniquities of his forefathers.

Josiah realized that the judgment of God was upon the nation because his forefathers had rejected the ways of God. He said, “Great is the wrath of the LORD that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not hearkened unto the words of this book, to do according unto all that which is written concerning us” (II Kings 22:13).

How God Rewarded a Tender Heart

When Josiah sent officials to inquire of the Lord concerning the evil that was to come upon the nation because of the transgression of his forefathers, God said to him, “Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before the LORD, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and has rent thy clothes, and wept before me; I also have heard thee, saith the LORD” (II Kings 22:19).

Personal Evaluation

  • Do you seek the Lord with your whole heart?
  • Do you allow bitterness or toleration of evil to cause callousness in your spirit?
  • Do you cut off communication with family members?
  • Have you chosen a Godly role model to follow?
  • Have you established a time and place to meet the Lord every day?
  • Do you listen for the voice of God’s Spirit speaking to you through Scripture?
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