Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:29-32
“Let all bitterness and wrath 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)
Earlier in this chapter, a fundamental principle of change was laid out — “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (vs. 22-24). By God’s grace and power, we have the ability to put off our old self and to put on the new self that God makes possible through Christ.
The old self is corrupt. It is driven by selfishness and self-centeredness. A selfish person easily becomes bitter. He or she gets angry when things don’t go their way. Such people are quick to slander others and to put them down. They do malicious things to others. These are our natural, old self tendencies.
But when we have been transformed by the gospel, we have a new set of desires. We treat others differently. We remember how God treats us and we begin to extend His grace and love to others. God has treated us with kindness and He expects us to do the same with others. God is tenderhearted toward us. He knows how weak we are and how prone to sin we are. God expects us to be understanding and tenderhearted toward others. God has forgiven us of all our sins in Christ. Jesus paid for our sins and the sins of all His people. Thus, we are to be forgiving of others.
Because we are a forgiven people, we must become a forgiving people. Remember the petition we pray in the Lord’s Prayer — “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” This is the only petition in the Lord’s prayer that Jesus further explains. He said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others of their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:14,15).
The bottom line is that we are to treat others in the same manner that God has treated us — with kindness, with tenderheartedness, and with forgiveness. This is the gospel in action. This is replacing the old self with the new self.
Lord Jesus, grant me grace to be kind to those I encounter today. Enable me to be tenderhearted and to be willing to forgive those who offend me. Thank You that You are kind and tenderhearted toward me. Thank You for paying the price for all my sins so that I can be forgiven of them. By your grace make me a forgiving person.
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