Friday, September 2, 2016

One Verse for Life

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, 
just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Ephesians 4:32

It's hard to pick just one verse to be a favorite, isn't it?  My favorites change, depending on what is going on in my life and what the Lord is teaching me.  But when it comes to instruction, when it comes to knowing God's will there is one verse that rises above them all - Ephesians 4:32.  This might be because it was one of the first verses I ever memorized (thank you, AWANA) or because I use it in every counseling case I've had.  If you really what to know what God wants you to do, this is a great starting place.

Be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving.  I am confident that if I chose those three words every day for the rest of my life, I would have a good life.  Let's do some quick defining:
  • Kind - having or showing a friendlygenerousand considerate nature
  • Tenderhearted - having a kind, gentle or sentimental nature
  • Forgiving - to be ready and willing to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake
The call, then, is to a life of friendliness, generosity, consideration, gentleness, sentimentality and free from anger and resentment.  Sounds like a pretty good life, doesn't it?  But this verse does not only give us what to do, but why - because God in Christ has forgiven me.  God has exampled kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness towards me.  And if you've been forgiven much, you tend to love much.

A person who chooses to respond to life in this manner will be a walking testimony of God's love and goodness.  When tempers flare, they will have a calming effect.  When sorrow overwhelms, they will give comfort.  When frustration boils to the surface, they will gently point to eternity.

By now, I am sure you are thinking of the one circumstance in your life that deserves your anger.  Someone has hurt you, gossiped about you, cheated on you, maligned you, undercut you.  You're hard work hasn't paid off and God feels far away.  An illness has knocked you off your feet.  There are things in life that deserve anger, frustration and punishment.  

Ephesians 4:32 is consistent with scripture.  Let's see what Romans 12:14-21 says:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 
Be of the same mind toward one another; 
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.
 Do not be wise in your own estimation.  
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. 
Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 
If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 
Never take your own revenge, beloved, 
but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 
Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.  
But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, 
and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; 
for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

In other words, God wants you to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving - and trust Him with the consequences. Can you possibly incur a greater judgment than God?  And we must keep in mind that the wrath meant for us was taken by Jesus.  That, in and of itself, should humble us to a different response when we have been sinned against.  In all things, it is God's will that you be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving.

At work, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving.  At home, be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving.  At school, be KTF.  With your children, be KTF.  With your spouse, be KTF.  With your in-laws, be KTF.  At church, be KTF.  At the grocery store, be KTF.  

I have often told my counselees that when I die, if my children choose to write "Kind, Tenderhearted, Forgiving" on my tombstone, then I will have lived the life to which God has called me.  So what are your kids going to put on your tombstone?

1 comment:

  1. Beautifully written, timeless truth. Thank you, Kristen!