Megan Evans, Women’s Ministry Director, LHBC

Ephesians 4:32  (ESV)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

We’ve all been wronged.  And it hurts, it twists us up inside, and it challenges our kindness.  Our sin nature is thrust forth and exposed when we are wronged—and our thoughts and reactions can really surprise us sometimes. 

 When someone wrongs you, what is the first thing you do? Human nature tells us to get even.  It can even be tempting to seek an apology just to settle the score. Forgiveness gets tricky here. There are times we need to work through conflict with others, but the goal is not just an apology-it’s restoration.  

 An apology is not just validation that we were indeed wronged. Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 17:3-4, Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

 God certainly knows a thing or two about repeated forgiveness, doesn’t He? How many times have you and I asked Him to forgive us for those same old sin areas we struggle with? Perhaps that is why Jesus addressed forgiveness with our repeat offenders, because we’re His repeat offenders too. Ouch! Does that hit you like it hits me? 

 “Pay attention to yourselves…”Jesus is talking to real and imperfect people here, just like you and me.  We are all a bit of a mess, aren’t we? Conflict certainly brings out layers of our mess, but also reminds us of the lavish grace that God bestows on us every single day.  While we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  The open arms of reconciliation and forgiveness were right there waiting for us when we turned to Jesus, and this kind of grace should point us to love others right in the middle of their mess.  

 If we are willing to rebuke, then we must be willing to forgive.  If we are not ready and willing to forgive a repentant heart, then we are not ready to rebuke. If our purpose in pointing out a wrong is not for restoration and unity, then our motives are selfish.  

 Ephesians chapter 4 calls us to unity, to live worthy of our calling, and to show God’s love and undeserved kindness to others.  Is it possible to be kind and tenderhearted, and to be forgiving even in the midst of conflict-even when someone wrongs us? Our sin nature will not get us there, but Ephesians 4:23 explains that the Holy Spirit is at work in us and will renew our thoughts and attitudes if we let Him.  

 Forgiving others doesn’t always come easy for me, perhaps you can relate.  Some things are easier to forgive than others, one time is easier than many. But to remember that God forgave us, humbles and empowers us to do the same for others. What relationships in your life need this kindness, love, and forgiveness today?  

Father God, thank you for lavishing your grace and mercy on me when I least deserve it. Teach me to forgive others as you have forgiven me.  Grow your kindness and tenderheartedness in me. Let my justice be found in Christ, rather than my human sin nature. Renew my thoughts and attitude by your Holy Spirit as I work through conflict, and let me live out forgiveness by giving unconditional and limitless grace and mercy to others.  In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Psalm 145:8
The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.