“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32
Forgiveness is perhaps one of the hardest things for believers and unbelievers alike. However, we as believers are reminded that in the forgiveness what we give (offer) is for the sake of Christ who paid an ultimate price to forgive our sins. For Christ to forgive he actually absorbed the offense of our sin unto himself and paid the price.
Forgiveness will always come with some level of sacrifice. Such sacrifices include things like pride, hurt, pain, the perceived right of holding something over another, and will always bear the risk of a repeat offense. Ephesians reminds us to “be kind one to another” and “tenderhearted.” Being kind, seeking good and not harm, having a genuine concern for one another. This second word “tenderhearted” takes place when we are kind; love, serve, and yes forgive one another. It is the opposite of what the bible describes as hardhearted.
Not forgiving others begins to, over time; harden our hearts keeping us from experiencing true freedom found in the forgiveness of Christ. This is not because the grace of Christ is less, but because of our ability to comprehend the depth of the cost will decrease it we too have never experienced the costliness of forgiveness.
In forgiving we become more aware of the costly grace of God for us on the cross of Christ. In being kind, in serving, and in forgiving our hearts begin to move from hardened to tender. Why is tenderheartedness important? A tender heart is open and receptive to the movement of God.
Recently I was watching a survivalist show and the two most important things they need are shelter and fire. Fire can be destructive, but fire can also provide warmth, light, and a way to nourish ourselves by preparing food, and so on. Each fire that I saw being built was not with matches but a small ember or spark. From that ember or spark they must add small branches, twigs, and bark that are tender. If they through hard wood on right away it will put the spark out.
These twigs and branches must be tender to be good tinder. It is tenderheartedness that is good tinder for the fires of revival to burn in the shelters of our churches. It must begin as a spark or ember in our hearts. These fires display the light of Christ, the warmth of the fellowship of believers, the nourishment of the word of Christ, and building up the flame of revival in our hearts, homes, churches, and communities. It is these vibrant fires that can melt the hardest of hearts.
Tender hearts make good tinder for the Spirit of God to go from a spark, to ember, to flame, to blaze and change our world for Christ.