[Column] Enlarge Your Heart

God tests the heart of those whom He uses as His instruments: “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the LORD tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3). How does He test the heart? By enlarging it to accommodate love, forgiveness, and tolerance. Apostle Paul urges us in 2 Corinthians 6:13, “As a fair exchange–I speak as to my children–open wide your hearts also.” Success and happiness depends upon the depth of heart of individuals and groups. Joseph was reunited with his brothers after 13 years. Seeing Joseph as vizier of Egypt, they were astonished and also frightened by the prospect of retaliation for selling him into slavery. Nonetheless, Joseph forgave his brothers without resentment or grudge. He fixes his eyes only on God’s providence and trains and enlarges his heart. In the end, he comes to understand divine providence and confesses in faith: “God did send me before you to preserve life (Genesis 45:5).”
This is the confession of a man with expansive and great heart.

There was an insurance broker named Lewis Waterman. In 1883, he was ready to finalize a contract with a client and took out the contract and a fountain pen. When the client held the pen to sign the contract, it refused to write and the ink leaked onto the contract. In desperation, he hurried ran to his office to the new contract, but the client had already signed a contract with another broker. Apparently, the competing broker offered a better deal. As heartbroken as he was, Waterman blamed neither the client nor the competing broker. Instead, he dwelt on this thought: “What if the ink had not leaked on to the contract.” His continued reflection inspired him to invent a fountain pen with the capillary feed that allowed the even flow of ink after many failures. The first practical fountain pen was invented by an insurance broker who lost his important contract. Our enemy is not failure. Rather, it is giving up God’s calling due to discouragement and resentment.

In Rwanda, there were two tribes. Under Belgian rule, the Tutsi tribe served as the master while the Hutu tribe as the slave. Then in 1962, the country gained independence from Belgium and there came a reversal of fortune. The subjugated tribe, Hutus, seized power and began retaliating against the Tutsis killing more than one million by 1994. In turn, the massacred tribe armed itself and created insurgents to engage in guerilla warfare. Soon, the new administration was established in Rwanda and over 3 million people from the opposing tribe were murdered. Scarred with hate, unforgiveness, and retaliation, Rwanda is now one of the poorest and most troubled countries in the world. It has become the land of orphans, desolation, and death.

There is another African country worth examining, South Africa. It fell under British rule for many years and later apartheid regime by white domination. When I visited South Africa about ten years ago, I was impressed with its well-developed, modern infrastructure. Is this owing to South Africa’s long history of peaceful environment and ethno-cultural homogeneity? Not quite. There was a long history of ethnic conflicts between whites and blacks. The white ruling-class oppressed blacks who called for equal rights. As the country elected its first black president Nelson Mandela, many feared a brutal and bloody retaliation. Soon, the world realized its fear was unwarranted. President Mandela called for reconciliation and forgiveness. Having been tortured and imprisoned for the most of his life, President Mandela must not have been without any hate or remorse. Nevertheless, he embraced forgiveness and enlarged his heart with love. As a result, South Africa has emerged as the land of peace and prosperity. As we can see, forgiveness and love brings peace, tolerance, life, and hope whereas resentment and anger brings retaliation, blood, and death.

If our anger and hatred have formed into stones in our heart, we must dissolve them by breaking them into pieces. Only then, we will be able to open wide and free our heart. “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free” (Psalm 119:32). He who fills his heart with forgiveness and love can triumph under any circumstances and be used as God’s instrument.

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