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“The widest thing in the universe is not space; it is the potential capacity of the human heart. Being made in the image of God, it is capable of almost unlimited extension in all directions. And one of the world’s greatest tragedies is that we allow our hearts to shrink until there is room in them for little besides ourselves” (A. W. Tozer).
IT WOULD BE HARD TO THINK OF A WORSE INSULT THAN TO SAY THAT SOMEONE WAS “HEARTLESS.” Few, if any, of the meanings of “heart” have negative connotations; almost always, heart is something we want to have. But we don’t work very hard at having heart. And although our hearts are capable of quite amazing growth and expansion, we don’t work very hard at having any more heart.
Compassion. One of the definitions of “heart” in the American Heritage Dictionary is “capacity for sympathy or generosity; compassion.” In that sense, it seems we live in an age that is often heartless. Extraordinary calamities and catastrophes may call forth great sympathy and generosity, but these qualities are often less noticeable in our daily dealings with one another, where we are often too busy to help or even to sympathize. “We allow our hearts to shrink,” said A. W. Tozer, “until there is room in them for little besides ourselves.”
Courage. Another of the American Heritage Dictionary’s definitions of “heart” is “inner strength or character; fortitude.” We might say, for example, that a person had the “heart of a lion,” and that would mean the person had an unbreakable spirit, a spirit that would never concede defeat inwardly, even though setbacks might be suffered outwardly. Having a greater heart in this sense is one of the most important ways that we can prepare to live in the real world. Hardships are a fact of life — and it takes a lot of heart to survive.
The word “heart” is one of the great “gift words” in the English language. Learning to have more heart, in the sense of both compassion and courage, is a wonderfully thoughtful thing to do for those around us, especially our families. We would make their lives more enjoyable, to say the least, if we demonstrated frequent growth in our capacity for sympathy and in the fortitude with which we face life’s hardships. Can we not give this gift? Should we not do so? Yes!
“Give others a piece of your heart, not a piece of your mind” (Anonymous).