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Five Gracious Exhortations

Ephesians 4:32-5:2

 

Do you want to be a blessing to other people? Do you want to help others? Do you want to minister to others? Do you want to build up others? Rather than hurting, hindering, offending, and tearing down, rather than driving people away from Christ, the Gospel, and the worship of God, would you like to be a magnet to draw them in? Are you interested in the glory of God, the church of Christ, and the souls of men? If you are, heed these five gracious exhortations and pray that God the Holy Spirit will graciously enable us to obey them.

 

“Be Ye Kind One to Another.”

How I love that word “kind.” I love to be around kind people. I want to be kind. The word “kind” means “good, thoughtful, courteous, amiable.” To be kind toward one another is to entertain gracious thoughts toward each other, look pleasantly upon each other, speak favorably to and about one another, and mutually serve one another for good. Kindness is exactly the opposite of everything mentioned in verse 31. — “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” Those vile works of the flesh are natural to us all. We are all basically petty and vindictive by nature. But these wicked, abominable things ought never to be characteristics of saved sinners. They are what our fallen nature is; but we must never indulge them. We ought to be kind to one another. If we would be both peaceful and useful, let us “be kind one to another.”

 

“Be Ye Tenderhearted.”

The word means “sympathetic, compassionate, full of pity.” The only other time this word is used in the Bible is in 2 Chronicles 13:7. There we read that Rehoboam, the son of Solomon was “young and tenderhearted.” Therefore, he could not fight against his enemies. I know that we must fight the good fight of faith, contend for the truth, and defend the honor of God. But we must never become contentious, hard, and unmerciful (2 Timothy 2:1-3). God, give me a tender heart, a heart sensitive to the direction of your Spirit, sensitive and obedient to your will, sensitive to the glory of Christ, and sensitive to the needs and feelings of others, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

Forgiving One Another

“Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” — The secret to peace and happiness in any association with other human beings is forgiveness. You cannot live long with anyone in peace and harmony until you learn to forgive. And we, of all people in the world, ought to be a kind, tenderhearted, forgiving people. Saved sinners, forgiven transgressors, pardoned offenders have great reason to be gracious and forgiving. By the grace of God, through the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the free grace and abundant mercy of God, I’ve been forgiven of all my sins. I ought to quickly forgive any evil done to me. I’ve been pardoned of all my transgressions. I should pardon any transgression another man may commit against me. I’ve been cleansed of all my iniquities. I dare not refuse to forgive the indescribably lesser iniquities committed by others. Grace bestowed makes people gracious. Mercy tasted makes people merciful. Love felt makes people loving. And forgiveness experienced makes people forgiving (Matthew 6:5-15; Luke 11:1-4).

 

“Be Ye Therefore Followers of God as Dear Children.”

The word “followers” here is “imitators.” Paul is urging us to follow the example of God himself in all things by imitating him. We are to follow his will, follow his Spirit, follow his Word, and follow his example. Particularly, we are to follow God in acts of mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. We are to be followers of God “as,” or because we are his “dear children.” As a son who has a wise, loving father honors his father by seeking to follow his example and be like him, we honor God when we seek to follow him and be like him.

 

“And Walk in Love.”

We are to love God. That is the first great commandment; but love for God does not exist except in the hearts of heaven-born spirits who love one another (1 John 4:19-5:1). Love is more than sentiment. It is service. Love is more than passion. It is commitment. To love someone is to live for them. Love is the constant, self-abasing, self-sacrificing commitment of myself to the welfare of the people I love. Love is the law of Christ’s kingdom. — “The love of Christ constraineth us!” Love is the fruit of saving faith. — “The fruit of the Spirit is love.” Love is easily defined and quickly perceived (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Love is giving, not taking. Love is serving, not being served. Love is forgiving, not retaliating. Love is overlooking faults, not exposing them. Love is covering sin, not digging it up. Love is forbearing, not getting even. Love is helping, not hurting. “He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.” — These are all attitudes and acts of grace I am responsible to show to you and perform for you, no matter what you may do to me. When I am offended, nature says, “Strike back!” But grace says, “Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, and loving.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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