On December 12, 1938, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin signed 30 lists of death sentences. Yet on that very night the callous tyrant went to his personal theater and watched two comedies. Stalin’s biographer, Dmitri Volkogonov, wonders how any human being could have a heart so hardened that he could smile and laugh after commanding the killing of some 5,000 victims, many of whom he knew personally.

Down through the centuries, calculated cruelty, murderous revenge, and even ghastly torture have made history a long tale of tragedy. Even if you and I could not see ourselves signing the death warrants of innocent victims, we must still guard against hardheartedness and pray for a spirit that is the very opposite of Stalin’s depraved sadism. We must plead for divine enablement to fulfill Paul’s imperative: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32).

Ask Jesus to help you replace any lingering hardheartedness in your life with His tenderheartedness. And show Christlike compassion to someone today.