Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.(Ephesians 4:32, ESV)
Look closely at the words at the end of this verse: “. . . God in Christ forgave you.” The Father forgives us in, or through, Christ. So Paul is telling us to forgive in the same way the Father forgives. How are we forgiven? God has forgiven us 100%—completely—just as Jesus completely fulfilled all of God’s requirements in his death, burial, resurrection and appearance. In other words, God forgives us 100% because the Gospel of Christ has made it possible.
Let’s put this in personal terms. The first column below represents the percentage of each action that God has accomplished in Jesus Christ. Think about that, then estimate the percentage of your efforts that are in Jesus Christ.
God’s % Your %
Kindness __________ _________
Tenderheartedness __________ _________
Forgiveness __________ _________
Look also at the word as: “. . . as God in Christ forgave you.” Is there a difference between how you forgive and how God forgives? Between your kindness and tenderheartedness and God’s? Assuming you see a difference, could it be because you are trying to do these things by your own willpower? What would change if, instead, your power came through Jesus’ gospel? What if today you began to live by the same power that raised Jesus from the dead? Jesus died for you and was resurrected, so that you can live in the forgiveness and tenderheartedness of God. Now that is good news!
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:11–12, ESV)
Lord Jesus, I choose to forgive others because you chose to die for me. Because you were resurrected, I choose to become tenderhearted. . . . Continue praying.