The Ephesians 4:32 Challenge

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Ephesians 4:32

Ephesians 4:32 is one of those verses that sounds so sweet and easy…right up until you have to do it.  It starts off with a pretty gentle admonition:  ”Be kind and compassionate to one another….”  Easy enough, right?  We’re adults.  We may even proudly label ourselves as Christian adults and have many years of serving God on our faith resume.  Being kind and compassionate should be second nature to us now, right?  Well…as long as we’re in a good mood and our day has gone according to plan and it’s not

  • the person in the car in front of us who cut us off in traffic or
  • the lady at the front of the line with a buggy full of items…who’s trying to check out in the express lane or
  • the person whose dirty socks and empty dishes you’re having to pick up or put away…again.

See?  Kindness and compassion isn’t always our “go to” position, is it?

The next part gets a little bit tougher:  “forgiving each other.”  Well.  That’s do-able…unless it happens to be someone who has said something unkind to or about a loved one, a former spouse who was unfaithful/unfailingly snarky or the colleague who took your idea and presented it as their own…and then received the raves that were supposed to have been yours.  What about the person who has done something really morally wrong or even illegal?  How about physical, mental or emotional abuse?  Can’t we get a pass there?  I mean, there should be limits, right?

And then comes the clincher:  “just as in Christ God forgave you.”  Oooh.  Hmm.  That doesn’t leave us anywhere to go, does it?  We’re supposed to put all those parts together and come to the same plan of action that GOD did…for each one of us.  Reality check!  A BIG reality check.

Now go back and put all the parts of that verse together and think about it again.  Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Aren’t you glad that God’s forgiveness isn’t temporary or dependent on a mood…someone else’s…or even your own?
  • Aren’t you glad His forgiveness is without limits and that He doesn’t forgive on a sliding scale based on wealth or popularity?
  • Has God forgiven you?  Could He forgive you?  No matter what you’ve done, the answer is a huge resounding “YES!”—even if you haven’t quite forgiven yourself yet.  How can I be sure?  First John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Romans 5:6-8 says that “when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” and “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Now, “the ungodly” label in verse 6?  We Christians don’t like to think about that.  We can push it away and try not to apply to our own situation, but the “us” part in verse 8 is pretty plain.  That’s you.  That’s me.  That’s us.  And trust me, if we’re harboring unforgiveness, it isn’t righteous and that ungodly label fits us, too.
  • Do I need to confess my own sin of unforgiveness and is there someone I need to forgive…just like God forgave me?

Father, thank you for Your forgiveness in my life.  Help me to be kind and compassionate today.  Grant me the strength to follow Your example and be obedient to Your Word.  Help me to forgive those who have hurt me or my loved ones…and those who are just really annoying today.  Remind me that I may be in that last category for someone else’s prayer today and give me the grace not to stay there.  Help me to represent You well and use me in ways that bring glory to Your name and others to Your throne.

So.  How are you doing with this on your end?  Please know that forgiveness doesn’t mean you continue to place yourself or your loved ones in dangerous situations or that by forgiving someone they are no longer responsible or accountable for their actions.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Forgiveness is not always easy, but it is still a necessary contribution toward your own healing.   If you are in an abusive relationship, please seek immediate assistance!

 

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