The evangelists George Whitefield and John Wesley were two of the greatest preachers in history. These men preached to thousands in open meetings, on the streets, in parks and prisons, and through their ministries many were brought to Christ. But a doctrinal dispute arose between the two men over how a person is sanctified. Both doctrinal camps defended their positions strongly, and some vicious words were exchanged, with the followers of both men arguing in unseemly fashion.
A follower of Whitefield came to him one day and asked, “Will we see John Wesley in heaven?” He was asking, in effect, “How can Wesley be saved if he’s preaching such error?”
Whitefield answered, “No, we will not see John Wesley in heaven. He will be so high up near Christ’s throne, so close to the Lord, that we won’t be able to see him.”
Paul called this kind of spirit “enlargement of heart.” And he had it himself as he wrote to the Corinthians, a church in which some had accused him of hardness and who had sneered at his preaching. Paul assured them, “O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged” (2 Corinthians 6:11).
When God enlarges your heart, suddenly so many limits and barriers are removed! You don’t see through a narrow lens anymore. Instead, you find yourself being directed by the Holy Spirit to those who are hurting. And the hurting are drawn to your compassionate spirit by the Holy Ghost’s magnetic pull.
So, do you have a gentleness of heart when you see hurting people? When you see a brother or sister who has stumbled in sin or may be having problems, are you tempted to tell them what’s wrong in their lives? Paul says that hurting ones need to be restored in a spirit of meekness and gentleness. They need to encounter the spirit that Jesus demonstrated.
Here is the cry of my heart for my remaining days: “God, take away all narrowness from my heart. I want your spirit of compassion for those who are hurting…your spirit of forgiveness when I see someone who’s fallen…your spirit of restoration, to take away their reproach.
“Take away all exclusiveness from my heart, and enlarge my capacity to love my enemies. When I approach someone who’s in sin, let me not go in judgment. Instead, let the well of water springing up in me be a river of divine love for them. And let the love that’s shown to them kindle in them a love for others.”