Ephesians 4



Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Observation – What does it say?

The Apostle Paul gives some of the most practical instructions in this passage. Jesus has given us a new life where we have put off our old sinful nature and are learning to put on the new nature, which is created to be like God, righteous and holy. In other words, a true Christ-follower will stop sinning and learn to live a good life like Jesus did. So Paul lists several practical examples/instructions of what it looks like for us to put on this new nature. And, it’s lumped together with these instructions that Paul tells the Ephesian Christ-followers to be kind, compassionate and to forgive. Not just forgiving like they’ve witnessed other people forgive, but forgiving in the same way that Jesus forgave them.

Understanding – What does it mean?

Jesus told a story in Matthew 18 when asked, “How many times should I forgive my brother or sister?”  

To sum it up, a servant who owed the king 10 bags of gold begged him for mercy because he couldn’t pay. The king had mercy and cancelled the debt completely. Leaving the king, the man found his fellow servant who owed him 100 pieces of silver. His fellow servant couldn’t pay it. And rather than showing mercy like the king showed him, he had his fellow servant thrown in prison until he could repay the debt. The king found out and reprimanded the servant for not showing mercy as he had been shown mercy, and handed him over to the jailers to be tortured until he could repay his debt.

God expects those who have received his forgiveness to extend that same forgiveness to others.

Earlier in the chapter, Paul says that the Gentile unbelievers had “lost all sensitivity” and “given themselves over to every kind of impurity.” What he was referring to is sensitivity to the Holy Spirit who, among other things, acts as the Christ-follower’s conscience. When you are about to sin the Holy Spirit will bring conviction, a warning you sense in your spirit not to go through with the sin. But if you ignore his voice repeatedly over time and keep sinning anyway, you dull your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. Just like we learn to tune out unwanted noise, we learn to tune out his voice. Then, when faced with temptation we don’t even really hear the warning anymore. Some of us have lost sensitivity to the Holy Spirit because we have ignored his nudging us to forgive.

Regardless of how bad we’ve been hurt or wronged, it doesn’t compare to how bad we’ve hurt and wronged God. And regardless of how bad we’ve been hurt or wronged, we are still called to forgive.

Life Application

Consider who I need to forgive.
Holy Spirit, restore any lost sensitivity to your voice. Speak to me right now and bring to mind anyone I need to forgive.  Even if I think I’ve forgiven them, show me any bitterness, resentment or offense I’m still carrying toward them… (wait and listen for a moment). God, you forgave me completely for all my wrongs. I didn’t deserve it but you forgave anyway. As hard as it is, I choose to forgive them now, just like you forgave me. Please remove all the pain and resentment in my heart and replace it with your love for them. Amen.
– Levi Thompson
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