One of the things that the world seems to have lost is the ability to be kind to one another. Gone are the days that if you had nothing nice to say then you kept your mouth shut. Everyone seems to think it is acceptable to spew nastiness from their mouths just because they feel offended.
These actions go completely against what the Bible commands us to live like. Unfortunately, many Christians use their Christianity to judge others. Because they feel like they are standing against sin, they feel justified in treating others poorly.
Today’s verse is actually instructions to the church in Ephesus but it still applies to us today. When applying the principles that are in the Bible to today’s life, we are living in a way that others can see God in your life. The things that are discussed in Ephesians 4:32 are, unfortunately, things that seem to be lacking in today’s world.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Break Down the Verse
“Be Kind to One Another…”
What exactly does being kind mean? I think that it is something deeper than just being nice. Being kind is not only being nice instead of being mean, it is being nice in the face of meanness. It’s considerate, gracious, and generous. It is loving others in spite of how they have treated you.
Anyone can fake being nice to someone but it is difficult to fake being kind. Being kind is going the extra mile and being helpful. It is demonstrating a generosity of spirit and a generous spirit is quick to help others. Being kind is much more than words; it is an action.
What does it mean to be tenderhearted? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as, “easily moved to love, pity, or sorrow” A few of the synonyms are compassionate, benevolent and sympathetic.
To be tenderhearted toward others is to truly care about them and the things they are going through. It is to show compassion toward those around you.
“…forgiving one another…”
Breaking this down can be tricky because there is the worldly definition of forgiving and the Godly. The worldly forgiveness is flawed and the Godly is perfection. Forgiveness can be a controversial topic but it shouldn’t be. Let’s breakdown what forgiveness is and is not. By simple definition, forgiving means, “willing or able to forgive” with a second definition of, “allowing room for error or weakness”. The word forgive means, “to cease to feel resentment against”.
Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is an action and it does not mean to act like something did not happen. Forgiveness is not condoning or excusing a wrong. Also know that forgiveness is not the same as reconciling.
Forgiveness can come in many forms some examples are:
- resisting revenge
- not returning evil for evil
- praying for their welfare
- and coming to their aid in distress
“…as God in Christ forgave you.”
But how did God forgive us? Through the sacrifice of Christ, the debt for our sin was paid. So when this verse says, “…as God in Christ forgave you”, it means that God’s forgiveness comes through Christ’s sacrifice. God wanted us to be forgiven of our sins so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son for us.
Bible Study Topics
God’s forgiveness, the perfect, unquestioning forgiveness is not something that we can achieve but is something that we should strive for. It is in the willingness to forgive like God did that we meet the standards for this verse.
God also knows that this is something that does not come easy for us. I think that is why there are so many verses about not being quick to anger and how not to act toward others when wronged.
Sum it Up
We should use the tools given in the earlier parts of this verse to make us more like Christ. If we are kind to one another, if we are tenderhearted toward others then we will have within our hearts to forgive as God forgave us. This verse is telling us that we need both of the first components in order to have the third and most important one.
So, as you go about your day, put effort into being more than nice to others. Be kind to one another and be tenderhearted toward the people you come in contact with. Do not hold your Christianity up in a prideful way and judge others because that is being boastful. Do these things to allow God to shine through your life.