A Vision to be Pursued
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another…” (Ephesians 4:32)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:32
I ended the last devotional by mentioning that we can only “put away” destructive and negative behaviours such as bitterness and slander by replacing the deep-seated feelings underlying these things with wholesome desires and emotions produced by the Spirit of God. What will such desires and their resultant good fruit look like?
Paul gives us a vision of them here when he writes, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). The counterpart to anger and wrath and malice and the like are kindness, tenderhearted compassion, and a forgiving spirit.
Just as we saw last time that self-love corrupts the emotions that lie beneath destructive attitudes and actions, so it is important to see that the grace of selfless love underlies the qualities mentioned here. What is it that enables us to be kind to other people – that is, to act towards them in ways that always seek their good and happiness? It is the disposition to love – the inner attitude that desires to do all in our power to see others blessed.
And what is it that makes us tenderhearted towards others? Is it not the ability to see into their world of sorrow and struggle and feel deeply with them in their troubles? That, too, is the fruit of a heart softened by love.
Or take the matter of forgiveness – how can we become people who are generously forgiving towards others, free from bitterness and resentment towards those who have wronged us? It is only as we care for them, and desire to see them healed and delivered from their bondage to sin that we can begin to do that. As those deeply loved and freely forgiven by God ourselves, we can begin to love others and let go of the wrongs they do to us.
Self-giving love that seeks only the good of others is the key to the kind of life Paul sketches here. It is exactly the kind of life that Jesus lived, and the life he calls us to. We can’t achieve through our strength, as it can only be the result of a life lived closely with God.
That is unquestionably the pressing need of our world. Without the love of God filling and flowing through us, our homes and families, our communities and nations are going to continue to disintegrate. Satan will continue to exercise control over the inner lives of people through their self-love and pride, and so wreak havoc in relationships.
What we so desperately need is a vision of the kinds of people we can become by the grace of God. We do not have to be bitter, angry, slanderous, malicious people. By God’s grace, through the powerful working of his Spirit within us, we can become loving people who are kind, tenderhearted and forgiving towards others.
Our little worlds, if not the entire world, can be changed. We should set our hearts on this happening.
- Do you really desire to be a kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving person?
- How can you become this kind of person through a life of intimate fellowship with God?
– Andrew Young