Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3332

Jump Start # 3332

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”

  I have always loved this passage Three bold statements fill this verse. Be kind. Be tender-hearted. Be forgiving. Those three statements fit nicely together. It’s really hard to be forgiving if one is not kind. And, being tender-hearted is just a natural outcome of being kind.

  One would think that among disciples, being kind is a given. Some things just do not need to be said, yet, here the apostle says it. Maybe among some it wasn’t as natural as we thought. Maybe there was friction between Jews and Gentiles. Maybe there was a past and that made it difficult to be kind.

  The opposite of kindness is meanness. This is why we find signs and posts on social media about being kind. However, without Jesus, there isn’t an example, nor a motive to be kind. Why should one be kind? Just because someone else says so? Some see kindness as allowing others to walk over them and take advantage of them. The movies are filled with rough and tough people who seek revenge and settle the score upon others.

  I want to look at the back side of forgiving each other. What we see there is an apology. Someone has hurt another. An apology or an “I’m sorry” is offered. The person who was hurt accepts the apology and forgives. The very idea of the apostle bringing up forgiving tells us that we tend to hurt each other. We say things that shouldn’t be said. We think selfishly and run over the feelings of others. We take advantage of others. Yes, in a perfect world, among God’s people, we’d never need to apologize and we’d never need to forgive. However, this world isn’t Heaven, and, we do hurt one another. We are not perfect. Apologize and forgive—like salt and pepper, they belong in every home, in every church, and in every heart.

  Let’s focus in upon the idea of an apology:

  First, an apology ought to be and needs to be genuine. It rises from within, out of our hearts. Telling another person to apologize, when they don’t feel like it, or think they should, becomes forced and has the appearance of fake flowers. From a distance fake flowers look nice. But, they are fake. They don’t smell like real flowers. They don’t feel like real flowers. They are just an image, but not the real thing.

  We see that in the home. A couple of boys will be roughhousing and one starts crying. Mom says, “tell your brother you are sorry.” He does so only because mom told him to. When mom leaves the room, he is likely to throw another punch. So much for the contrite heart. It was all fake, just like artificial flowers.

  Sometimes a person will toss out an apology just because they got in trouble. At the end of a Sunday service a teen drags himself forward and mumbles some sorry words about making a mistake. The church rallies around him and prayers are offered. In time, as the story becomes known, the police were involved, it is a big mess. Was he truly sorry for his choices or was he sorry that he got caught and is now in trouble?

  Second, it seems to me that an apology ought to be directed towards the people that were hurt. I’ve seen some offer an apology on Facebook, but who is reading that and who is that directed towards. If I wasn’t hurt or involved, there is no need to apologize to me. A generic social apology may reach many people but does it help the people who were directly hurt? Send a personal letter to the people involved or better yet, go tell them in person. What if a person has hurt a congregation? Do the same. Send a letter or go tell them in person. Facebook has a place but it cannot cover somethings that need to be done directly,

  Third, before a person apologizes to another, one ought to apologize to God. We can tell someone that we forgive them, but that does not take the place of what God says. The church cannot forgive sins, only God can. A person can tearfully apologize to another person, but the wrongs that they have done must still be forgiven by God. Turn first to God before you turn to one another.

  It seems from our passage that God knew His people who hurt each other. Sometimes that comes about as we grow. We have to move from a selfish center to having the heart of a servant. In that process, we can wound each other. Growth also means that we move away from attitudes, words and choices that are not God pleasing. Patience, grace and forgiveness are the keys that keep us together. Without that, we will walk away from each other.

  No one is too big to apologize. No one ought to be too proud to apologize. It’s really hard to forgive someone when that person refuses to admit wrong and apologize. It will strain our fellowship, continue to hurt our feelings and keep us from progressing and growing in the Lord.

  I am sorry…mean it. Say it. Don’t be too big for it.