Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Every sentence in this section is underlined, and I could preach on any of them! However, they all deal with interpersonal relationships, and this verse gives a major key to getting all of that right. I always tell couples that if they don’t forgive each other they won’t be happy, but that actually applies outside of marriage as well. Forgiving is letting go of hurts, while refusing to forgive is clasping hurts to yourself. A heart that does that is soon in tatters. We often have great difficulty forgiving, but the key to being able to forgive others is given right here: realizing how much God has forgiven you. We like to defend ourselves, not admitting our own wrongs, but that’s no way to achieve happiness, much less a right relationship with God. Acknowledging our own faults and sins is so fundamental that salvation is impossible apart from it. Even Jesus said, “Repent and believe the good news.” (Mark 1:15) You can’t repent without admitting you were wrong. When our hearts are open and tender to God, the Holy Spirit will bring to mind those things of which we need to repent, and He will do it on an ongoing basis as we live our daily lives. When that is our lifestyle, forgiving others becomes much easier. Those who refuse to forgive others are actually refusing God’s forgiveness for themselves. We forget that right after He taught us to pray, Jesus said, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matthew 6:14-15) Forgiving and being forgiven is certainly the path of light and life!
I’m as adept at justifying myself as the next guy, and I’ve had to learn how dangerous that is. It’s not that I’m always wrong, but nursing a grievance is always wrong. Sometimes I have to choose to remind myself of how much God has forgiven me, to enable me to forgive someone else. I never regret doing that, but I always regret it when I hold a grudge. God’s forgiveness is so glorious and unconditional because it is based on the cross of Jesus Christ, who took the penalty for every one of our sins. I’ve got to remember that it was my sin that nailed Him to the cross. When I do that, the sins that others commit against me seem trivial indeed.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for Your truly amazing grace. Help me allow that grace to flow through me unhindered, so that the works of the devil may be destroyed (1 John 3:8) and people be set free to repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!