APPLYING THE GOSPEL TO RELATIONSHIPS

Scripture Reading:  Ephesians 4:25-32

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  (Ephesians 4:31,32)

The gospel has implications for every area of our lives.  This is especially true in terms of our relationships with others.  The way we treat others matters to God.  We are called to be gracious and forgiving because God has been gracious and forgiving to us.

Throughout my ministry, I have been disheartened by the number of broken relationships I have observed.  So many people are carrying around bitterness and hurt that stem from unresolved conflict.  Families have been torn apart and long term friendships have been destroyed because people continue to hold grudges against one another.

Conflict is not a bad thing; unresolved conflict is.  The gospel demands that we put away “all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander along with all malice.”  We must deal with past hurts and move forward.  We cannot dwell on them or we will become bitter and angry because of them.

We must not retaliate but entrust ourselves to the One who judges justly (I Peter 2:23).  God is very clear about the matter — “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.  Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord'” (Romans 12:17-19).

The gospel compels us to be proactive and not reactive — “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”  Christians must be forgiving people because we are a forgiven people.  Dare we not forgive others when we consider how much Christ has forgiven us!

The old self is reactive — filled with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice.  The new self is proactive — it is kind, tenderhearted and forgiving.  By the power of the indwelling Spirit, we are to put off the old self and to put on the new self (v. 24).  When we do, we will treat others the way Jesus treats people.

Lord Jesus, thank You that You have been kind, tenderhearted and forgiving to me.  Give me the power to put away any bitterness and anger I have toward others and allow me instead to be gracious and forgiving to them.

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