From Your Pastor, June 18

From Your Pastor, June 18

“God in Christ Forgave You.”

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.— Ephesians 4.31-32

STOP! Go back and slowly read the passage again. Ephesians 4.31-32 will be the best part of the devotional.

Do you have even a thimble sized amount of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander or malice in your heart? I thought I saw a few hands go up. Well, the apostle Paul says if you are Christian, you are “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires” (Ephesians 4.22). How can you put off the old man?

Paul begins to outline the process when he says that we should “be renewed in the spirit of your minds” (Ephesians 4.23). Yes, belief should change your behavior; but have you ever met anyone who says one thing and acts another way? Of course, we have met a person like that—we meet them each morning as we look into the mirror. Thus, renewing your mind is not merely an academic exercise. Paul says we need to rewire our heads and hearts; it is a process which engages the intellect and emotions.

So how can we put off bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander or malice? This is where we need multiple exposures to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul told the Romans to “be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12.1). In other words, repetition is the mother of all learning. Or, as John Calvin said: “For just as eyes, when dimmed with age or weakness or by some other defect, unless aided by spectacles, discern nothing distinctly; so, such is our feebleness, unless Scripture guides us…” We need to put on the Scriptural spectacles in general, but the gospel of Jesus Christ spectacles in particular.

What is Paul’s major point? Forgiveness. Do you need to forgive someone? Perhaps, you need to ask for forgiveness from someone. Our pride, nonetheless, stops us cold in our tracks and we began to harden our hearts.

How does the gospel of Jesus Christ tommy-gun our pride, and enable us to forgive or ask for forgiveness? We have to see that our nasty bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice was absorbed by someone that was perfect. He didn’t have any bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander or malice. And yet—He willing swallowed our bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander and malice. God in Christ forgave you.

Why can’t you forgive that person who is the proverbial sandspur in your flipflop? You immediately say, “But you don’t know what they have done to me!” You are right. I don’t know what they have done to you. I, however, do know what we did to God and it was infinitely worse, and He still forgave us. 

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.— Ephesians 4.31-32

—Pastor Knox