Paul is at the end of an exhaustive list of directives when he comes to this final thought: Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
I was reminded of a hard and detailed man who sought for others to be the same. In time, his family felt the weight of his impossible demands as did all those who called him friend. His church-life suffered as he found flaws and inconsistencies in people. Time did not solve his appetite for perfection; they only alienated him from the very people who loved him. I remember him being alone later in life; friendless and unlovable. I cannot say that he ever came to know that the reason for his alienation was the absence of kindness. This man was certainly religious. He believed in the Bible, but he missed the knowledge of the fruit of the Spirit and his heart was hard and hateful.
Paul was dealing with church issues when he wrote the above text. Not all of those issues had to do with spiritual warfare. Paul wrote about authority, doctrine, and the Blood of Jesus, but finally Paul dealt with the foundation of Christianity: Kindness. I wonder if Paul recalled Solomon’s words: Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Kindness might not sound spiritual to some. Kindness doesn’t have the same allure as the Gift of Prophecy or the Word of Wisdom. Kindness doesn’t always draw the same attention as intellectualism or musical talent. Yet I submit that there are no spiritual gifts or talents that can override a coarse or brash spirit. Rudeness is fundamentally adverse to the nature of Jesus Christ.
David described the nature of the Lord in this way: Psalm 103:8 “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” If this be the case, how can Christians act the opposite of the very God they claim to serve? Furthermore, how is our Christianity revealed if it is not through our respect toward one another? The proverbs declared that a soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. James wrote, “Let everyone be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” The preached word was this, “Can the Church Survive the Church?”, and that because our existence is based upon how we treat one another. If we fail it won’t be because of demonic influences or worldliness. Both the power of the Name and the teaching of the Word can defeat those foes. No, our struggle will be the level of compassion that exists within the body. Jesus said is like this… “by this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one to another.” He did not say one for another. Love in this case is an action verb “to.”
As pastor, I’m less concerned with talent or ability and more concerned with tender heartedness. And what shall we say about forgiving one another? Is this not Bible also? Paul said that we forgive as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven us. This means that He forgave us through the suffering of the Cross. It means that while He knew our flaws, He chose not to expose them, but rather to carry them. Kindness and Forgiveness. There is nothing else that declares the resident Holy Ghost. Because long after you and I stop speaking in other tongues, as the Bible describes, it will be our Kindness that declares the infilling of the Spirit. Long after we leave the awesome moving of the Lord in this house, it will be how we address one another that will show who we really are. I propose a new thought: Let Kindness, tenderness and forgiveness be the measurement for our church family. And let the Love of Christ rule our lives.
Pastor Jeffrey Harpole