November 1, 1998
For the last couple days, I have been praying about what to speak on today. I already have together the second message on Compassion, and the Introduction to the Gifts -- that is, understanding how we uniquely fit together and work together in the Body of Christ, for the cause of Christ.
Last night, I woke up with tenderhearted on my mind. The word is found in.
Eph 4:32, And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
tenderhearted means that we are sensitive to the distresses and sufferings of others, and move quickly to do what we can to aid them.
This chapter calls on Christians to cast off the selfish works of the flesh that prevent doing v. 32. The natural inclinations, the works of the flesh are described in v. 31, and they hinder or prevent us from doing v. 32.
V. 31, malice. That is, a desire to injure someone, or to cause trouble for someone.
Rather than the things of v. 31 controlling us, v. 32 is to control us.
Let's look at some things that are needed to accomplish v. 32.
V. 1, Paul beseeches. (?) That is, he pleads with Christians. What he is saying here is as contrary to human nature as anything can be. The natural inclination is v. 31, so it takes work to accomplish v. 32, and he will tell us how to do it.
V. 1, vocation. (?) Speaks of work. Apprenticeship. The vocation, v. 1, is not accomplished immediately; particularly the meekness, patience and love is something accomplished over the long term. (1 Cor. 13.)
V. 2, Forgearing one another in love is a key ingredient. This is patiently putting up with the weaknesses of others. V. 13, no one is what they should be for the Lord. Paul here calls for us to bear with one another in each other's weaknesses and shortcomings.
V. 3, one day we will be perfect, but until then, we are to endeavour (?, work at) keeping unity and peace in the body of Christ. Others want to quarrel, we must not respond likewise. Others despise and hate us, we must not do likewise. The unity called for here is unity of the Spirit, and peaceful coexistence in the body of Christ.
Obviously, Paul is not talking of tolerating doctrinal error, nor is he talking of tolerating immorality and sin. He is pleading with Christians, though, to work at accepting one another in love. In fact, we are to work to promote the strong points of others, and forbearing one another's shortcomings.
Note here: how much easier are we on ourselves than we are on others?
V. 2, the first step in toward v. 32 is meekness.
Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
The things in v. 31 come from pride.
Vv. 4-6, is the next step: he compares Christians (?) to a body. We must realize that the same spirit placed us all into the same body as unique individuals. Each unique person is a part of the one body, and one head of the body is Christ.
(Went to a Revival meeting in NR. The preacher preached a good sermon on hell.)
V. 13, the Lord is not calling for everyone to think nor act alike. We are unique individuals, and our unity is in Christ. There can be no unity, tenderheartedness, without realizing our unity is the unity of the fatih.
Vv. 7-16, though the members of the body of Christ have the things of vv. 4, 5, 6, in common, there are many things in which we differ. Notice who gave us the differences, (?) Christ.
In the first church, a great deal of contention arose over their differences. (1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:4) Paul reminded them that they were one in Christ. 1 Cor. 12:11, the Lord is the one who decides who is placed where and what strengths he has. With those strengths go weaknesses.
V. 31, we are to be kind and tenderhearted toward one another. How?
Realize that each person is different, that each person has different ways of thinking and looking at things, and realizing that the Lord is the one who made each of us that way. No two people will ever see things the same.
However, tenderheartedness is not based on our differences. Tenderheartedness is based upon the fact that we are in the same body as believers, Christ. When we get our attention on our unique differences, and our attention off of Christ and the unity in him, we lose our bond of peace, v.3.
(V. 14, note that it takes serious Bible study and teaching to keep from being carried about.)
Vv. 17-19, describes those of v. 31.
V. 20-24 tells us to throw out the things of v. 31.
V. 22, Paul is pointing out a problem -- that is, that within every fiber of our being, the old man, the old nature, seeks to retain control of our mind and of our body. The old man seeks to exalt itself in every way. He seeks to deceives us into thinking that sin is enjoyable and will not harm us, or worse. The old man keeps us from being kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.
V. 23, gives us the key:
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
The way we think must be changed, before our actions will be changed.
Psalms 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
Peter told us:
1 Peter 1:13, Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
V. 25 reminds us of what (?) That we are members one of another, vv. 7-13.
The theme of this chapter is the unity in Christ. This chapter does not even discuss differences people have with one another, other than say that we will be different. The Spirit does not require that we think alike, look alike, see all things alike. This chapter assumes that we will be none of these things.
Nor is Paul telling us to tolerate doctrinal error, immorality and sin in general. He is pleading with Christians, though, to work at accepting one another in love. Paul is pleading with Christians to work to promote one another's strong points. He is pleading with Christians to forbearing one another's shortcomings.
Paul does require that we,
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
The kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness toward one another is based in the fact that we are Christians. Not in the fact that we think alike, nor that we are alike in other ways.
We are to be sensitive to the distresses and sufferings of others, and move quickly to do what we can to aid them. We cannot do that with bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking and malice in our hearts.
We can be sensitive to the distresses and sufferings of others and move quickly to do what we can to aid them when we have lowliness of mind, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance for one another.
We can do nothing without the washing of regeneration that is only through the blood of Christ. And we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.