Freedom through Forgiveness (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Ephesians 4:31-32 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
There isn’t one person reading this devotion who hasn’t been hurt by another person. The real question is…what are you doing with that offense? Do you hold them hostage for the injury they inflicted on you? How many hours and days have you wasted thinking, “You owe me and I’m going to make you pay.” That’s a tough question on a painful topic, but eventually you’re going to have to get it settled or it will destroy you. In order to navigate your way through relationships you need to hold a principle about how you’re going to respond when someone hurts you. Failing to forgive the other person keeps you in emotional and spiritual bondage.
Ephesians 4:31-32 gives us direction: In the context of walking in love and not grieving the Holy Spirit, we are further commanded to “let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Here listed are five ugly agents that are the exact opposite of love. They are as follows: bitterness (resentment, animosity, hostility), wrath (loss of temper), anger (rage, fury, irritation), clamour and evil speaking (yelling at another with nasty accusations; joined with hard feelings). It is the exact opposite of love. As God’s people, in love, we are directed to do the opposite.
We are commanded to “be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” These are helpful and instructive. It is a manifestation of walking in love. God had so loved us when He forgave us for Christ’s sake. Read that last phrase again, “even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” Just as freely as He forgave you. Just as quickly as He forgave you. Just as generously as He forgave you.
Jesus models what forgiveness should look like in our lives. He was falsely accused, mocked, beaten and spat upon, then crucified. As He hung on that cross for your sins and mine, He said: “Father, forgive them.” Jesus’ model motivates us to live out Ephesians 4:32, “even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” There are no enduring relationships without forgiveness. None. Before you go very far in any relationship there will be forks in the road where if you do not forgive, the relationship will not survive. It’s true in every marriage, in every household, in every small group, in every friendship and even in every church. This is always, always true.
Prayer, Lord, I’ve not yet begun to explore the depths of Your mercy toward me in Christ. Your grace is beyond what I can imagine. But help me live with an increasingly proper calculation of it. Each day, as I draw closer to understanding Your grace and mercy, may I also extend grace and mercy in greater degrees toward others. I know that if I am Your child, I must forgive. Empower me to be a forgiver like You, for Your glory. I ask this through the precious name of Jesus, amen.
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Dr. Blackman is passionate about helping others grow in the grace of the Lord. His devotions are centered on how to grow closer to the Lord through a personal relationship.