“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore, be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).
Newness of life is thoroughly revolutionary and transformative. What better example of this truth can be found than what happened when Saul of Tarsus learned Christ, put away the old man and put on the new man.
Only by removing the dreadful roots of bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and all malice from the soil of your heart can you sow the seeds of kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness, thus allowing you to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Kindness is the spiritual antithesis of bitterness. And, like the putting off of bitterness (in verse 31), the cultivation of kindness (in verse 32) is commanded. The intended meaning of this present imperative is “be kind and become kinder”.
To become kinder, a tender heart is essential. It changes the lens of your heart from the old man’s critical magnifying glass to the new man’s compassionate empathy. The eyes of a tender heart look upon another’s weakness and failings as an opportunity to help, not condemn. Instead of self-righteous criticism, useful edification via words of grace is spoken.
To become kinder, a forgiving spirit is necessary. To the old man offenses were ideal opportunities for bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice. These same offenses are now viewed by the new man as ideal opportunities to edify by mercifully forgiving, imitating God, and walking in love.
How revolutionary and transformative is newness of life!