“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” —Ephesians 4:31-32
“But that’s not fair!” Has your child ever said this to you? Have you ever heard someone who experienced an injustice lash out in anger? Perhaps like me, you’ve seen people who were doing what was right, loving and serving the Lord, and living for Him, suddenly come down with an illness, disease, or loss. Perhaps that person has even been you. If so, I want to challenge you to open your heart to what God has to say through Ephesians 4 today. Put aside the injustice or undeserved circumstances in your life, and allow God to speak to you through His truth.
We could read verse 31 several times a year (maybe even hundreds of times!), but often it’s not until a trial or time of injustice comes that God’s words mean the most. God tells us that no matter what comes in our lives whether it be bitterness or anger, we are to put it aside. He doesn’t tell us to seek revenge then put it aside. He doesn’t justify us holding on to our bitterness. God commands us to put aside all hurt or anger that we may feel.
Sadly, many Christians become bitter or angry with God when injustices occur. They don’t understand why they are suffering while others who aren’t living for God seem to be living happy lives. The Psalmist addressed this when he wrote, “Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity” (Psalm 37:1). God encourages us, “Don’t worry about what is happening to others. I have a special plan for your life, so trust My path to bring you to that plan.”
But God doesn’t want us to just put aside our hurts; He wants us to show kindness. When we are wronged by others and have put aside our anger, God wants us to also show kindness to them. God goes on in verse 32 to say, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” While it is hard enough to let go of hurt feelings, showing kindness takes special grace from God.
Our kindness and forgiveness to others is not based on our feelings but on Christ’s action on the Cross. His entire earthly ministry was about forgiveness—coming to earth to die and pay the price for our sins, thus forgiving us of any wrongdoing. We should forgive others and show them kindness because God has first forgiven us.
What injustice have you experienced? Has someone wronged you or has an “unfair” situation come into your life? Rather than harboring bitterness and anger, put aside those feelings and focus on showing kindness. If you’re having trouble seeing how God is working in your situation, take time right now to read Psalm 37. Let God’s words encourage you to surrender to His path for your life, even if that includes suffering injustices.(Dr. Paul Chappell)