Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us to Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
We live in a world where people are becoming more distant, self-centered and uncaring at a rapid pace. Revenge and retaliation have become the norm. Ephesians 4:31-32 tells us to Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
Bitterness has been defined as “the resentful spirit that refuses reconciliation.” Wrath is defined as “violent, resentful anger; rage or fury” and anger is “a feeling of extreme displeasure, hostility or exasperation toward someone of something”. Paul said all must be put away.
When Jesus Christ becomes Lord of our lives, we should seek to show the same kindness, tender heartedness and forgiveness to others that God shows us. If we treat others as God treats us, we fulfill everything Paul told us to do in chapter 4 of Ephesians.
Our forgiveness to others is patterned after the forgiveness of Jesus towards us. When we think of the amazing way God forgives us, it’s shameful for us to withhold forgiveness from those who have wronged us. He forgives our sin knowing that we will sin again, often in exactly the same way and He keeps reaching out to man for reconciliation even when man rejects Him again and again.
God’s Word puts it like this: even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. This gives us an assurance of forgiveness – that it’s for Christ’s sake. Charles Spurgeon said: “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven thee. Get hold of that grand truth, and hold it, though all the devils in hell roar at thee. Grasp it as with a hand of steel; grip it as for life: ‘God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven me,’ – may each one of us be able to say that. We shall not feel the divine sweetness and force of the text unless we can make a personal matter of it by the Holy Ghost. If anyone here who is a Christian finds a difficulty in forgiveness, I am going to give him three words which will help him wonderfully. I would put them into the good man’s mouth. I gave them to you just now, and prayed you to get the sweetness of them; here they are again! ‘For Christ’s sake.’ Cannot you forgive an offender on that ground?”
It isn’t that we must forgive because Jesus will forgive us. We forgive because He has forgiven us.