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READ: Ephesians 4:25–5:1
Be kind to one another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
When we or someone we love
has been hurt, thoughts of revenge may dominate our minds. But we won’t ever be
able to “get even.” Dr. Lewis Smedes, a professor of theology, wrote
extensively about forgiveness in Forgive and Forget, saying: “Revenge
never evens the score, for alienated people never keep score of wrongs by the
same mathematics. Forgiveness is the only way to stop the cycle of unfair pain
turning in your memory.”
These insights help us
understand why Paul wrote with urgency: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger . . .
be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, . . .
forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:31-32). Paul
knew that a spirit of forgiveness was essential for the Ephesians’ spiritual
survival. His appeal was based on God’s forgiveness of them.
Smedes said that
forgiveness is not forgetting, excusing, or smoothing things over. Instead,
forgiving breaks the cycle of revenge and “creates a new possibility of
fairness by releasing us from the unfair past. Forgiving is love’s toughest
work, and love’s biggest risk. To forgive is to dance to the beat of God’s
forgiving heart. It is to ride the crest of love’s strongest wave. To forgive
is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” —David C.
Jesus came our debt to pay,
Saved our soul in grace one day,
So in love we all should live,
Ready always to forgive. —Bosch
Revenge imprisons us;
forgiveness sets us free.