Tonight I am unable to sleep. I’ve been awakened and unable to shake it, so am turning here to do a bit more scripture work on the passage I shared below in Ephesians. That passage is so rich, so full, that just one blog entry does not do it the justice it deserves.
I’m going to revisit these verses:
32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
- Be kindhearted: “having or showing sympathy or kindness”. We all know people who have shown immense kindness toward us and we want to imitate them. A kindhearted person will put off their own selfish nature-completely discard it-in order to be kind towards another human being.
- Tenderhearted: “softhearted, sympathetic”. This person will love well, looking to bring comfort to the hurting, understanding the need for tenderness in times of due stress.
- Forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave us. This is the only words in the list that have a caveat. It is one thing to say “I forgave them.”, it’s a completely different thing to forgive one another as God in Christ forgave us. It’s a much more painful act because it requires sacrifice of self and the letting go of pain and instituting the restoration and reconciliation of relationship. It’s allowing God in Christ to forgive the one you are angry with or hurt by, and then working toward incorporating kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness toward that person who has hurt you deeply. I know this very well from both sides. I know what it is like to be unforgiven and the intense pain that brings. But I also know that unforgiveness toward my ex-husband for the heinous crimes he has committed would have eaten me alive with bitterness and anger. I don’t want to be there, not only for my sake, but also for the sake of my children.
I think God knows these things are hard. It is hard to remain kindhearted in every situation. It is difficult to be tenderhearted instead of self-serving. And it is extremely hard to forgive as God in Christ forgave us. God knows we can not do this on our own, so He gives us a simple command: Imitate God, as beloved children. Children LOVE to imitate. The love to imitate what they see their mommies and daddies doing every day. They want to play piano like their big brother or sister plays. They want to be able to ride a bike, so they imitate what they see their siblings doing.
God is saying, in order to do these hard things, take the easier road and become as a child and imitate what God would do. And frankly, we know enough of God’s nature so as to know what it is He would do in many, many situations. We know innately when to be kind and tenderhearted, we know where forgiveness is needed. And if we don’t, just like a child we need to ask our Father “What do I do next in this situation?” And then do it.
This passage that I’m focusing on ends like this: Walk in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us; a fragrant offering and a sacrifice to God. Walk in love. Walk in love. If we walk in love as Christ loved us, then the notions of kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness will come easier. Because we are not walking in love under our own power, but we are walking in love as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us. Sacrificially living is what we are being called to do ultimately. Sacrificially living toward strangers, toward family members, toward friends, toward church members, toward non-believers. And we do all of this by imitating God as little children would do so.
God, may we be able to humble ourselves to imitate you as children. May we walk in love, kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness as we walk in the love that Christ loves us. May we see opportunities to live sacrificially, and jump at the chance to do so, for your glory and name’s sake.