God is the author of a large heart. Only He can make a big man. Apart from Him we are all quite small. Small people are petty; they make others an offender for a word; they are ready to go to war over any slight they perceive. The love of man doesn’t need many waters to quench it; a few raindrops can turn friends into enemies. The dignity of men is derived from their likeness to God, but the anger they unleash when they suffer indignities makes them most unlike God.
Paul had a large heart. It was a heart that was the workmanship of God in Christ Jesus. What he received from men did not determine what he gave to men. He could say: “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” (2 Corinthians 12:15)
Apart from the influence of the Spirit of God, the spirit of man not only lusts to envy, it lusts to murder. People are only too willing cut off those they don’t like and those they believe don’t like them. We say we have experienced the grace of God, but such should be shown by how gracious we are to others, particularly those who don’t treat us the way they should. Jesus called us to love others, not as they have loved us, but as He has loved us. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10)
If there are any people on the face of the earth who should have large, generous, gracious hearts it should be Christians. Yet, this is not always the case. We say that we know Him and are in the light, but we can still hold very carnal attitudes toward some people. We justify our stance because of the way they are, or what they have done, but in the end, there is no justification for a small heart toward anyone. The fountain of our heart never needs to become bitter when the sweet Spirit of God is at work. Instead of becoming smaller when offenses come, the Father leads us to His Son, where we find more grace, and even the worst behavior of men is God’s means to bring forth in us the greatest beauty.
What was it about Paul that some in Corinth didn’t like? In what way did he cross them? How had he not lived up to their expectations? What was it about him that turned them off? Over a period of time many in Corinth had soured on Paul and he knew it. He could only say, “I have wronged no one. Neither have I defrauded or corrupted anyone. Your affection toward me has shrunken. But my behavior has not been the cause of your small hearts. And though your attitudes are unwarranted, I have not let them make me small-hearted in return. You have pushed me out of your hearts; but you remain in my heart. You don’t wish to hear from me; but my mouth is open to you. You would cut me out of your life and heart and prayers, but the exact opposite is my position toward you.” The name Paul means “small,” but the man Paul was anything but small of heart.
Who is sufficient for these things? Who can keep us from the love destroying effects of bitterness and envy, hatred and revenge? Only as we walk in the Spirit will we not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. There is a filthiness of the spirit that is just as bad, if not worse, than the filthiness of the flesh. Who sees what goes on in the heart that is the root of all bitter words and attitudes? God knows where we fail of His grace and fall short of His glory. We like to impress others by our good deeds and great love toward some; He sees the slightest corruption or blemish in our heart toward anyone.
If we would truly be God’s workmanship we will let Him form in us the mind of Christ toward every single person we encounter. We will be on guard against the little foxes that would spoil the vineyard of our heart. We will, by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God, keep our heart with all diligence. We will let God turn what would have otherwise been a small, petty, unloving heart, into a great, generous, loving heart, that is just like His.