Jan19TueJanuary 19, 2016
Ephesians 4:32a - Be kind and compassionate to one another..." (NIV)
I think that kindness and compassion are undervalued by the average believer in Christ. We take it for granted. We expect others in the body to be kind and compassionate. The NAS translation uses the word "tenderhearted", which is a very nuanced word. And more literal to the Greek. That said, let's see how this can apply to us in our every day lives as "children of God."
The 'Golden Rule' comes into play here. We want to be treated with kindness, no matter how bad we mess up. And 'mess up' we do - on a daily basis. The context of the passage gives us the basis for why we should be kind and compassionate: "Just as in Christ God forgave you." The Scripture has many cross-references to this concept. We can explore that sometime. But for now, let's think about what this kindness really is... yes, Christ's kindness for me! Well, to begin, we can all agree that we are not worthy of our Savior's love or kindness. Yet, in his matchless love, He showers us with his mercy and love and invites His Children to the table. The story of the Prodigal son comes to mind here. The prodigal is very sure that his father will not receive him back from his left-field journey. BUT, the father, in the story, has been longing to see his child - dirty, smelly and exhausted, come home and once again in his arms. God does that for you and me!
Now, the response of every believer is to act in the same manner. I am sure that you can relate to this. You see people you know and love living messy lives, and it frustrates you, and even makes you angry. And if they come back from their 'journey', our response is going to be most likely like the older brother! (Please don't try to wiggle out of it!) Yeah, it's true.
Ok, how do I respond to these words "be kind and tenderhearted?" Answer: take the initiative to offer forgiveness and mercy to those who sin. No, we don't overlook or downplay sin.... We think about God's kindness toward us when we were in the same position, and we turn around and offer it to the person standing before us.... 'dirty and smelly.' And we throw our arms around them and weep for joy that they have returned - in repentance and sorrow for their sin .
Get the point?