Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
We’re all living some sort of life. Some kind of life. But is this life a kind life that’s motivated by the kindness that we’ve received from God?
A kind life is the opposite of a sharp life and tongue. It’s not a bitter or harsh life, filled with sour or harsh words. It’s a gracious life. A life full of caring for the other person.
When we’re compassionate, we speak and feel pity and kindness. We are tenderhearted toward others. And this always moves us to show tender mercies in our words and actions.
Our forgiving is very different from God’s. When God forgives, he puts away sin. His death on the cross paid the penalty, satisfied the law, and took our punishment on himself. We could never do this.
But we are called to forgive. Our forgiveness shows kindness towards the people that have hurt us. We are to be gracious to those who have offended us.
Let me stop you right there. I know what you’re thinking. I was thinking it long before you were. I was thinking it as the words were coming off my fingers and onto the keyboard. This is what I was thinking, and so were you.
Are you out of your mind? You have no idea how much pain they caused. How much hurt they inflicted on me. My family. My friends. They deserve to be punished. And not just normal punishment, but a whole lot of really painful punishment.
Sounds a lot different from what’s written here. These are the words from the God who forgives. He forgives because it’s part of who he is. Forgiveness is at the heart, the center of who he is. His forgiveness breaks out and he forgives us.
Listen to how Jesus’ says that we’re to live. Hold onto your hat!
But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Now, I know that some of you have been deeply hurt. Jesus is not trying to ignore the hurt you’ve endured. Jesus is not taking it lightly. On the contrary, he’s taking it very seriously.
No matter how much someone else has hurt you, it’s not close to how much we’ve hurt God. Our pain is nothing in comparison to how much we’ve hurt God. That’s right. You’ve crushed God. And so have I.
King David was unfaithful to his wife, committed adultery with Bathsheba, tried to cover it up, had her husband killed, and then lied about it to Nathan the Prophet. When all this comes crashing down, what does he cry out?
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.
God is the only one in the position to tell us to forgive because he’s the God who forgives. It’s not a suggestion for us to forgive. It’s not a nice thing to do. It’s not even that it’s better for us. No, we forgive because God is a God who forgives. It’s who he is.
God takes sin so seriously that Jesus his son came, suffered, and died for our sin. He stood in for us, taking the punishment we justly deserved. He was arrested and falsely charged by the spiritual leaders and Pilate. He then quietly accepted their cruel condemnation. All those things they said weren’t true about Jesus, but they were true about us.
Jesus abandoned the throne of heaven for you and me. While he was still God, he left his glory, becoming nothing, coming to earth as a servant. But it didn’t stop there, Jesus humbled himself and died in our place. And not a nice, sterile, pain-free hospice death. But death on a cross.
He did that so we could be forgiven before God. And now, in the power of that forgiveness, we’re commanded to forgive others. We are to abandon our pride for humility. We are to abandon our pain for forgiveness.
And this abandonment is where real life is lived.
How sharp are your words? Thoughts? Actions? Attitudes?
What do you think when you read the words that you are totally forgiven?
What are you willing to abandon in light of what Jesus abandoned for you?