“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
I was reading this verse the other day. It’s a very familiar one to me and probably to many of you. We’ve heard it countless times and can even recite it back from memory.
We know we are to be kind to others and forgive them. I’ve even heard many of us (including myself) at times tell someone else, “I’ve forgiven them, but I can’t forget.” Which is probably an accurate statement. And I do believe at times that we need to hold up boundaries and barriers in our life once we know that someone else is capable or likely to threaten or hurt us or our loved ones.
But there’s a big word in this verse that I think many of us gloss over. It’s the word “tenderhearted.” God tells us we are to be tenderhearted to others. Yes, even those who need our forgiveness on a matter.
So we may have “forgiven” them and think we are being civil to them, but are we tenderhearted to them? Being civil is easy. It’s an outward expression. We can put on an “act” to do the right thing. But being tenderhearted is a much tougher issue. It’s an inward expression. It means we have to soften our heart’s feelings and view regarding someone who has possibly hurt us deeply.
I think a lot of us have missed the mark when it comes to being tenderhearted.
My heart is tendered when I think of how my Lord can still feel tenderhearted towards me after I am so prideful at times. After I grumble, complain, and do that sinful thing – sometimes intentionally. I am humbled that God is tenderhearted towards me knowing all of my flaws and inner thoughts. Yet, He is. And all He is asking is that I offer that same courtesy to someone else who is just as flawed.
Can you get to that place within you where you can offer it to that person who has hurt or wronged you? That’s what He’s asking of us….