“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32, English Standard Version).
I experience these words as a gentle but firmly stated and clear instruction. I experience these words and wonder, given that He is clearly speaking to His children, the Church, “What makes it necessary for Him to instruct us to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving as He forgives, without any qualifiers or exceptions?” We are His children, after all, and He is changing us into the image of His Son. Right?
All these things being true, nonetheless, can it be that this instruction is necessary because there are times, situations, seasons, when we do not feel like being kind? When we do not feel like being tenderhearted? When we do not feel like forgiving someone and, to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving as He has forgiven and forgives us, requires us to control our feelings and actively, intentionally choose to be kind? Actively, intentionally choose to be tenderhearted? Actively, intentionally choose to forgive as He has forgiven us? Umm. I am thankful that in those moments, situations, and seasons, I can honestly say to Him, “Father, I do not feel like being kind, tenderhearted, or forgiving but please help me do so,” and He will, without hesitation.