A glowing light heart over the ocean reminds us to keep a tender heart.

Tough Skin, Tender Heart: A Daily Meditation

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Criticism stings, you have a choice about how to respond. Have you maintained a tender heart?

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 says,  

“Do not take to heart all the things that people say, lest you hear your servant cursing you. Your heart knows that many times you yourself have cursed others.”  

Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

Instead of anger or despair, use criticism as a chance to self-reflect with the Holy Spirit’s help. Maybe there’s truth to it, or maybe it’s a reminder to be kinder with your own words. 

Consider how you speak and how your heart reacts to others’ words. Breathe deeply and connect your breath to your heart. Confess any anger, despair, gossip, lies, or unkind words to God. He forgives you completely. 

Remember, you’ve probably spoken harshly yourself. This can help you respond to criticism with peace. 

How can you practice “letting go” when offended? Imagine situations where criticism might arise: 

  • A colleague complains about you. 
  • You disagree strongly with something you read. 
  • Your boss or spouse is unreasonable. 

Instead of reacting impulsively, take a deep breath and consider your options. 

Jesus said, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

How can you build up “good things” in your heart? 

Ask God for a tender heart and a peace-loving spirit. Pray to love with confidence, patience, and tenderness. 

Remember, the Holy Spirit is with you to help you respond well to criticism. Ask for help developing a “thick skin” but keeping a tender heart. 

Heavenly Father, I confess that sometimes when I’m offended I lash out in anger, or I let my hurt feelings lead me to despair. Please give me a discerning heart and a peace-loving spirit, so that I will know when to let an offense go, when to learn from it, and when to respond to it. Help me to love as you love, with confidence and patience and tenderness. In the name of Jesus I pray: amen. 

Now listen to the 2-minute version of this Abide meditation, “Tough Skin, Tender Heart,” based on Ecclesiastes 7:21-22. Let God speak to you about what it means to keep a tender heart. To hear the full-length version, download the Abide app and start a premium subscription. The longer meditation goes more in depth on the topic and allows you more time to connect with God in this verse. Use this link for 25% off. 

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