Paul, in describing the new life of a Christian, exhorts the Ephesian believers,
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. – Ephesians 4:32
Literally, the first words are, “become kind”, and it’s the positive side of what Paul just said in the previous verse about putting away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and slander. As opposed to those attitudes, the believers were to be kind.
In the title of this bleat, we wrote, “be nice”, which ruffles the feathers of many a Christian. The Bible doesn’t ever tell us to be nice! they argue. Well, sure it does. What we really mean when we want people to be nice to us is that we want them to be kind to us. Well, then, what is biblical kindness? wonders the cage-stage Christian, chomping at the bit. Paul describes for the Ephesians what this kindness looks like.
1. Have a tender heart
He says, Be kind to one another, tenderhearted. Christians are to have tender hearts toward one another. It is a heart of brotherly love, compassion, good will. It is a heart that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.
This is something that is severely lacking between believers today, especially knowledgable believers, and especially on the Internet. Our fingers are sometimes faster than our minds, and we retort, without any thought to consequence or tenderheartedness. May the Lord work this out in all of us for His glory.
2. Forgive as God forgave you
That’s the next part of the verse. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Paul is well aware that Christians will do each other wrong, this side of glory. And part of being kind to one another is forgiving each other when it happens. It’s related to having a tender heart. For we know that we too are sinners, and we ought to have mercy on fellow sinners (like that servant should not have shaken down his fellow servant after his master forgave him an incredible debt).
In fact, Paul reminds the Ephesians about that forgiveness by saying, as God in Christ forgave you. This is to give us the motivation for our own forgiveness…and perhaps to show us the folly of not forgiving. We must forgive others since God forgave us in Christ.
So, if we would put away the old life and be kind to one another, let us be tenderhearted toward each other, and let us forgive each other as God in Christ forgave us.
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