Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (ESV)
Have you ever come across a section of Scripture that you think it would be easier to just take a Sharpie marker and black it out? Have you ever avoided a verse because it had a way of pointing out just how inept you were as a follower of Christ? If you haven't wanted to eliminate a verse of Scripture, today's verse might be the very verse that you would like to get rid of.
We are instructed to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Well, that is easy if it is for people who are sorry for the way that they have wronged us. And it is easy to be tenderhearted and kind to those who treat us with kindness. But, I can assure you, that is not what this verse is saying. It is saying that we are to be kind, and tenderhearted, and forgiving AS GOD IN CHRIST FORGAVE YOU.
In other words, the way that we are to forgive is to be the very same as God's way of forgiveness. And what way is that? While we were sinners. While we were in complete rebellion to him. While we hated him, He sent Christ to die for us and forgive our sin. We did not deserve the forgiveness. We did not deserve kindness. We did not deserve God's tender heart. But, he offered it, freely. And that is what we are to do to everyone.
We are to offer forgiveness to people who are not sorry and do not deserve it. And in this letter to the Ephesians, and to us, Paul is helping us to see what separates us from the pagan, godless world around us. Our forgiving spirit is one of the defining characteristics of people who have been saved and now belong to the kingdom of God. Listen to what the great preacher Charles Spurgeon said about the topic:
"You are nothing better than deceitful hypocrites if you harbor in your minds a single unforgiving thought. There are some sins which may be in the heart, and yet you may be saved. But you cannot be saved unless you are forgiving. If we do not choose to forgive, we choose to be damned."