Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
As Christians, we are part of a holy community: “the Body of Christ,” set apart collectively to reflect the character of our gracious God, to bring glory to His name, and to bring the good news of His love to this world. That is a high calling, and not one to be taken lightly.
In the first verse of Ephesians 4, a section titled in my Bible “Unity in the Body of Christ,” Paul urges the church he’s addressing to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” After that, he goes on to give instructions for living the new life in Christ - living humbly, treating one another with patience and gentleness, and using God-given gifts of grace to serve within and outside of the church body. Why is this so important? Why does God give Paul these words that are so specific about how His people live their lives together?
I think we can get some insight from John chapter 17, where Jesus prays before He is taken away and crucified. After praying for their growth in holiness and truth, Jesus asks for unity among His first disciples and among all future Christians:
...that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
According to Jesus, the way His people are unified will testify to the power and authority and grace of our great Father. May we be strengthened in the power of the Spirit today to live like this, as a global community of believers, yes, but also in our local Christian communities. May we be kind and tenderhearted, may we love one another with forgiving hearts as God in Christ has forgiven us...that the world may know about the very God who’s forgiven us and enabled us to love.
1. How has your value of Christian community changed over time? Is it a priority in your life?
2. Is it easy or hard for you to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving? Why do you think so?
3. How can understanding that unity among believers is meant to reflect Christ help you to love other Christians well?
Lord, thank You for forgiving me in Christ and for making me a part of Your family. Thank You for giving me brothers and sisters all around the world to join with in spreading Your love and Your name. God, sometimes it’s hard for me to love others, but I thank you for loving me perfectly. Help me to be kind and tenderhearted in ways that point people to You.