More Like Him, Less Like the World

Day 10 of 21: January 20, 2024

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Kindness is not just pretending to play nice when you are tempted to curse someone out. It is a Spirit-driven determination not to allow external circumstances to change whom you choose to be. Remember, Jesus called Judas friend.

Being tenderhearted does not mean being soft, weak, easily manipulated or emotionally destroyed. It means you work with the Holy Spirit daily to remain sensitive to God’s heart and compassionate toward others. It means that you have the strength to genuinely care and not to become jaded, cynical, or indifferent.

Jesus also makes it very clear in His word that we will not be forgiven if we do not forgive (Matthew 18:21-35). No matter what others have done to us, or even what we have done to ourselves, it is small in comparison to our sin against a holy, perfect, loving God. Jesus didn’t just snap His fingers and make everything better. He paid the price for our sin on the cross. He is not asking us to die, but to die to our “right” to hold a grudge or an offense. If we despise the magnitude of the cost of the cross and do not forgive each other – and quickly – God will not forgive us. It is that simple.

Being kind is both a discipline and a choice. Today, ask the Holy Spirit for the strength and strategy to be kind to others. It is, after all, one of the things He desires to produce in us (Galatians 5:22).

Staying tenderhearted has more to do with our conversation with God as we navigate difficult people and situations. Ask for the grace to remain sensitive to Him and for the strength to rise above all of the defense mechanisms we develop to protect ourselves. You can trust Him – He’s got your back (Isaiah 58:8).

Forgiving others is not easy. It’s not a light switch. However, we must understand that emotions do not (at least should not) determine our choices. We are to forgive immediately and seek God for just how to walk that out. When you ask for forgiveness from God, you may not feel forgiven in that moment but you are regardless of your mental or emotional state (1 John 1:9). In the same way, we must forgive immediately, especially when we don’t feel like it. Unforgiveness is a poison that will kill you, both in this life and for eternity, if you don’t deal with it before the Lord.

When we do these things, we become more like Him and more like who we are supposed to be. We also become less and less like the world, and thereby become more influential and impactful for the kingdom (John 3:30).

Father, I love You. Thank You for today. I ask that You help me to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. I know this life will give me many opportunities to develop theses character traits, but I ask that You would be with me as I do. I ask forgiveness for any unforgiveness, offense, malice, or bitterness in my heart. Help me to love You and to love others. In Jesus’ name, amen.