Reflecting on this Gospel passage, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote that Jesus called his followers to foster two competing qualities: a tough mind and a tender heart. Jesus sends his friends into the world – the real world in real time with real people. The world of complex issues with conflicting demands, where relationships might be strained, broken and in need of healing.
Mature disciples engage in hard, serious thinking rather than settle for convenient answers. And the mature have hearts shaped with tenderness open to the beauty of loving others. Tough mindedness without tenderheartedness is cold and hard. Tenderheartedness without tough mindedness is sentimental and aimless. Jesus demands both. We must courageously combine the tough and tender to allow God to surround us with justice and grace.