“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Live and love like Jesus. That’s Belmont’s description of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.
In this passage, Paul gives a list of items that we can all agree have no place in the church, and replaces it with a list that every group of believers should foster. We understand this, but we also understand that the church doesn’t always function as it should. I believe this is why Paul adds the little reminder at the end, “as God in Christ forgave you.”
When we hold on to offense and allow it to turn into bitterness, wrath, and slander we’re not only forgetting how we should live, but also forgetting that we’ve already enjoyed the forgiveness and mercy of God for being offensive ourselves – to others and to Christ. This not only affects our spiritual health, but it thwarts the work of the church. When we are tempted to react to an offense in a way that seems natural and justified, let’s remember that we have been forgiven for far worse, and we are called to a higher purpose.
While using the HEAR method (see below) consider the following questions:
- Why do you think our natural response to offense is to become angry, bitter, and want to fight back?
- How does this hurt the work of the church?
- Take some time to meditate on the many ways that God has been kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving to you.
Highlight – what words or phrases jump out at you?
Explain – what does the passage mean?
Apply – how does the passage intersect with your life today?
Respond – how is God leading you to respond?
Jon Price, Associate Pastor