"And Be Kind to One Another"
Sadly brethren in Christ mistreat and do not care for each other as they ought. This is a shame because out of all the people that can help me and understand me as a Christian, it is one who is striving for the same goal for which I aspire. Yet, Paul gave simple instruction when he taught the Ephesians, "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." (Eph. 4:32). It is evident from the scriptures that Christians should love each other and be compassionate toward each other (2 Peter 1:5-7; 1 Thess. 4:9). However, for this love to grow as it should, we must be obedient to the instructions of Paul to the Ephesians.
The term "kind" denotes: "serviceable, good, pleasant" (of things), "good, gracious, kind" (from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words). Am I kind and tenderhearted toward my brethren? Each of us must deal with this question. We must look at our own hearts to see how we deal without family in the Lord. Too often we do not show the kindness as we ought. The scriptures teach that part of the character of Christians will be kindness. Paul teaches us what it means to be kind when he said, "Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;" (Rom. 12:10). Do we show the proper kindness to each other by giving honor and preference to our brethren? When matters of judgment come up in the local congregation do we exemplify kindness by not be wise in our own opinion and pressing it to the point of causing undo trouble in the local work?
It is of interest to me that the term "kind" means, "serviceable, good, pleasant." Again, Paul is teaching the Ephesians to be good to each other. In chapter two, Paul said that God had ". . . raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." When God made us to sit together, He wanted His people to be one. How can God's people be unified if we are not good to each other? This will take being "tenderhearted" which the apostle explains that we must be in our text. Peter said, "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;" (1 Peter 3:8). One who is tenderhearted is one who takes pity or shows compassion for another. Let us be tenderhearted toward each other. Instead many are ready to crucify their own brethren for the smallest of mistakes. This is indeed sad.
Why must I be kind and tenderhearted toward my brethren? Paul answers, "forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you." Kindness and tenderheartedness do not overlook my brethren's sins. However, it helps me to restore my brother who sins against me. Consider Joseph who could have grown up to be very bitter toward his brothers, but rather forgave them. Why? He was kind and tenderhearted. "Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." (Gen. 50:21). Also, God was tenderhearted toward us. Isn't that what Paul says? Even when we deserved death, God was kind to us (Titus 3:3-7).
Brethren, the exhortation to Paul is for us. Let us be good to each other. Let us forgive each other as we repent. It will take faith on our part (Luke 17:1-5). When we face the fact that God teaches us to be kind, tenderhearted and to forgive one another, we are getting closer to understanding what He has had to do in accepting and forgiving us.
By Randy Cavender
From Expository Files 5.9; September 1998