Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Meditation for the week of February 24, 2008

Ephesians 4:32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

Sometimes when we preach the Gospel, we play “gotchya”. We preach that salvation is not a lifestyle, it is a relationship with the Lord Jesus. We preach that salvation is by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We preach that you don’t have to DO anything to be saved because the work that saves is already DONE. Now that sounds pretty good to someone who is burdened by trying to do enough good to get to heaven. So they begin to listen to the Gospel, they are convicted about their sin and they turn to Christ and Christ alone for salvation. That’s when we tell them the rest of the story and start playing “gotcha”. We tell them that they gotta do this and they gotta do that. We explain that now that we have “gotten them” to profess faith in Christ, they must conform to certain rules or we won’t believe that they are really Christians. This has always been difficult for me because I am one who believes that God does want us to obey Him and that we show our faith by our works (James 2:18), but I also believe that we are saved by grace through faith alone and not by works.

Maybe we need to be honest with those who are listening to the Gospel and explain that the reason that we all need to be saved is because of sin and that after we are saved, there should be a change in our lives. Yes, salvation is a new relationship, but a new relationship will always affects our lifestyle. However, any lifestyle change will be inspired by devotion to the Lord who has forgiven us. The Holy Spirit will control us and not other Christians.

The works that people need to see in one who is ‘born again” are not always the list of rules to which other Christians have decided that all Christians should conform, but the rule that we find in our verse for this week. We are commanded to be kind one to another, and to be tenderhearted and forgiving. We are not to be hard and unforgiving. That is one of the big lifestyle changes that I see when a person comes to know the Lord. Instead of wanting to control others, they now want the Lord to control them. Instead of being hard and critical and unforgiving, they now realize that have been forgiven much and so they should forgive the little that others have done to them (Matthew 18:33).

If unsaved people saw us living according to the principle of Ephesians 4:32, I suspect most would be attracted to us and our lifestyle and they might even be attracted to our Lord. When people see kindness and a forgiving spirit; when they see people who are tenderhearted when people make mistakes; then they are seeing Christ in us. When they see us being critical, hard, and unforgiving even though we don’t cuss and drink and smoke and abort babies and live homosexual life styles, likely they are not going to be very interested in the God that they think we are serving.

I believe that every home should have two verses of Scripture prominently displayed in the home. One is John 3:16. The walls of our home can be a witness to the truth that it is Who we trust and not what we do that gives us a life from eternity that fits us for eternity. But we should also have Ephesians 4:32 displayed to remind us that there is a lifestyle change that should occur when we have trusted the Lord. Obviously, the Ephesians needed to be reminded of the need for that lifestyle change or Paul would not have written this to them. We need to be reminded as well that technical adherence to the things that are right and moral will be meaningless if we aren’t first kind and considerate and tenderhearted and forgiving.

Salvation is freely offered to all of us, but it only seems right that the saved who have been shown kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness by the Lord should want to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving to others.

Bruce Collins

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>