“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, NASB95)
Recently, I saw a “tweet” from a Christian leader who pointed out that we really don’t hold grudges, but rather grudges hold us. That is so very true. Bitterness and grudges have been around since the very beginning of time. Remember Cain and Abel? However, from where I sit, it appears to me that anger and bitterness is running rampant in our culture in a way that I have never seen before. So many live in the bondage of unforgiveness. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Christian believers live in that bondage too.
Like many Christians, I sometimes struggle with forgiveness. It certainly doesn’t come naturally, does it? However, forgiveness is not an option if we are to live faithfully for Christ. We cannot bear spiritual fruit and know the joy of the Lord if our hearts are filled with bitterness and anger. On the surface, this appears irreconcilable, doesn’t it? On the one hand, forgiveness is absolutely necessary, but on the other hand forgiveness goes against everything that we naturally feel. It is certainly no surprise that the overwhelming majority of people live their lives in the bondage of unforgiveness. It is what comes most naturally.
Ephesians 4:32 reminds us as Christians that forgiveness is a SUPERNATURAL part of our lives. Notice that we are not encouraged to forgive because we are so good and kind. The basis of our being able to forgive others is the powerful forgiveness of Christ that we have experienced for our own sin. We can forgive because we have experienced such incredible forgiveness ourselves. Christ forgave us of our sins and we certainly do not deserve it. Therefore, because we have experienced love, grace, and forgiveness in our own lives, we can extend them to others who have hurt us.
Ephesians 4:32 is one of my life verses because each year I find myself coming back to it on multiple occasions. Life hurts. Family hurts sometimes. Ministry and church hurts sometimes. I have learned to run back to this verse when I sense that I am struggling to forgive. This serves two purposes. First, it reminds me that I can forgive and the ability to forgive is not based on my goodness, but on the goodness of Christ. Finally, it also reminds me of the greatness of my salvation. Christ has forgiven me of all of my sins; he came into this world to save sinners – of whom I am chief! Once I am reminded of those two great truths, then I tend to be in a more ready mindset to forgive and move on.
Do you need to forgive someone today? Make Ephesians 4:32 one of your life verses.