Kind, Tender, Forgiving

Ephesians 4: 32

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
And finally, be nice, for this is the way of a mature Christian.

Yesterday we read Paul’s directions for the attitudes and expressions we must avoid. Today he shows us the contrast. He said don’t be a party to bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor (complaining), slander and malice. Now he is saying do be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving.

Think about tender-hearted for a moment. That would be the exact opposite of being hard-hearted. You will see the tender heart evidenced in compassion, empathy and sympathy. When something happens to someone else whether that event be large or small, a tender-hearted person would feel compassion for the other person and then would likely express that compassion in gentle words. A tender-hearted person would feel the effect of that event on the other person. A person who is tender-hearted feels things. Their heart is easily touched. This does not mean that they are a slave to their feelings. They just have the ability to understand legitimate emotion. You cannot be hard-hearted and walk as Jesus walked because he was a man of great compassion. We need to allow ourselves to be moved by the condition and situation of others. We don’t become enablers in the dysfunctional sense, but we can respond from a heart of compassion. It is possible to balance these things. Jesus certainly did.

And if you think anyone has done you wrong, forgive them. How many times, really, do we need to hear this? Once a day perhaps. Look, it’s not all about you. It is not about what you wanted, what you thought or what they did to you. It is not even about what they said about you. Let it go. They are fascinated with you because their own life is so boring or messed up. Don’t get in their muck with them by getting all steamed up at their bad acts. Let them wallow in the muck and mire if they must, but get yourself into your place with Jesus far above and beyond all the filthiness of this world. Let your heart of compassion forgive them and for goodness sake pray for them. They really need it.

Be kind, be gentle, be forgiving. It is the way.