Be kind and tender-hearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.
I. KINDNESS. It is a suggestive idea that our English word "kind" is derived from kinned, as marking the affection of kindred.
1. Consider how it is to be manifested.
(1) By desiring one another's good (1 Timothy 2:1);
(2) by rejoicing in one another's prosperity (Romans 12:15);
(3) by pitying one another's miseries (Romans 12:15);
(4) by helping one another's necessities (1 John 3:17, 18).
2. The motives to kindness.
(1) The example of God himself, who is said to be "kind to the unthankful and evil" (Luke 6:35);
(2) it is a commanded duty;
(3) we are brethren both in the flesh and in the spirit. A kindly spirit without a touch of censoriousness or harshness greatly recommends true religion.
II. TENDER-HEARTEDNESS. This expression is in the original closely allied to "bowels of mercy" (Colossians 3:12). It implies a compassionate sense of the miseries and infirmities of others. It is to interpret in the best sense the injunction of the apostle: "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:4). The ties of nature are not cancelled by Christianity, but strengthened by it. We ought to be ready at all times to soothe the sorrows, to remove the miseries, to solve the doubts, of our neighbors. It is a temper highly recommended in Scripture (Luke 6:36; 1 Peter 3:8). An unmerciful spirit is declared to be inconsistent with the love of God in the soul: "Whoso... shutteth his bowels of compassion ... how dwelleth the love of God in him?" (1 John 3:17). We ought to follow the example of our heavenly Father, who is rich in mercy, and whose tender mercies are over all his works; and of his dear Son Jesus Christ, who was often moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36), and, as the High Priest of our profession, cannot but be touched with the feeling of our infirmities (Hebrews 6:15).
III. THE FORGIVING SPIRIT. "Forgiving one another, even as God also in Christ forgave you." These words imply:
1. That Christians will often do to one another much that needs forgiveness. They are "of like passions with other men," beset by infirmities of temper, or apt to come into collision with others either in a way of opinion or of interest. Faults will be committed, offence will be given.
3. Our forgiving our brethren must be a certain factor in our own prayer for Divine forgiveness.
4. The motive or measure of our forgiveness is to be the very forgiveness of God himself. Note:
(1) It is God who forgives; it is an act of his grace (Ephesians 1:7).
(2) He does it in Christ, not merely for his sake, but in him as our Mediator.
(3) It is a past act. Believers are forgiven in Christ in the very moment of their conversion.
(4) How miserable we should be without it! - God angry with us; hell under our feet; the very blessings of life a curse to us.
(5) How happy we are with this forgiveness! God will never condemn you nor remember your sins; all things will be blessed to you; the love of God the guarantee of your final glorification. - T.C.
And be ye kind one to another.I. THE EXTENT OF THE DUTY ENFORCED. It is not enough to abstain from acts of an unfriendly or hostile nature, but we should ever cherish that mild and amiable disposition which looks upon all men as friends till by their ingratitude or moral delinquency they have shown themselves to be unworthy of our friendship or good esteem.
1. One who is kindly disposed, either by nature or by grace, will be at all times ready to do a good action for another, if it should lie in his power.
2. Kindliness of disposition will be evidenced in all classes by a prevailing tone of mind which indisposes us either to think evil, or to speak evil of our neighbours.
3. We may beneficially carry out the precept of the text, by adopting a kind and courteous tone of language in all the relations of daily life.
II. THE PRECEPT OF THE TEXT MAY FURTHER BE URGED.
1. From the consideration of that precious love which our Saviour exhibited in dying for us.
2. From the remembrance of that supreme mercy and compassion which our heavenly Father manifests, when for Christ's sake He freely forgives us all the multiplied sins which we have committed against Him.
(F. F. Statham, B. A.)
1. To hear as little as possible to the prejudice of others.
2. To believe nothing of the kind till I am absolutely forced to it.
3. Never to drink in the spirit of one who circulates an ill report.
4. Always to moderate, as far as I can, the unkindness which is expressed toward others.
5. Always believe that, if the other side were heard, a very different account would be given of the matter.Matthew 5:46, 47).
(G. S. Bowes.)
(C. Buck.)It may be defined as "lighting our neighbour's candle by our own," by which we lose nothing and impart something.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(H. W. Beecher.)
(G. S. Bowes.)
I. GOD'S ARGUMENT FOR MERCY. He forgives us "for Christ's sake."
1. Let us consider the force of this motive by which God is moved to forgive sinners.(1) The first thing which will move us to do anything for another's sake is his person, with its various additions of position and character. The excellence of a man's person has often moved others to high enthusiasm, to the spending of their lives; ay, to the endurance of cruel deaths for his sake. In the day of battle, if the advancing column wavered for a single moment, Napoleon's presence made every man a hero. When Alexander led the van, there was not a man in all the Macedonian ranks who would have hesitated to lose his life in following him. For David's sake the three mighties broke through the host, at imminent peril of their lives, to bring him water from the well of Bethlehem. Some men have a charm about them which enthralls the souls of other men, who are fascinated by them and count it their highest delight to do them honour. How shall I, in a fitting manner, lead you to contemplate the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, seeing that His charms as far exceed all human attractions as the sun outshines the stars! Yet this much I will be bold to say, that tie is so glorious that even the God of heaven may well consent to do ten thousand things for His sake. He is Almighty God, and at the same time all-perfect Man. In the surpassing majesty of His person lies a part of the force of the plea.(2) A far greater power lies in near and dear relationship. The mother, whose son had been many years at sea, pined for him with all a mother's fondness. She was a widow, and her heart had but this one object left. One day there came to the cottage door a ragged sailor. He was limping on a crutch, and seeking alms. He had been asking at several houses for a widow of such-and-such a name. He had now found her out. She was glad to see a sailor, for never since her son had gone to sea had she turned one away from her door, for her son's sake. The present visitor told her that he had served in the same ship with her beloved boy; that they had been wrecked together and cast upon a barren shore; that her son had died in his arms, and that he had charged him with his dying breath to take his Bible to his mother — she would know by that sign that it was her son — and to charge her to receive his comrade affectionately and kindly for her son's sake. You may well conceive how the best of the house was set before the stranger. He was but a common sailor; there was nothing in him to recommend him. His weather-beaten cheeks told of service, but it was not service rendered to her; he had no claim on her, and yet there was bed and board, and the widow's hearth for him. Why? Because she seemed to see in his eyes the picture of her son — and that Book, the sure token of good faith, opened her heart and her house to the stranger. Relationship will frequently do far more than the mere excellence of the person. Our God had but one begotten Son, and that Son the darling of His bosom. Oh, how the Father loved Him.(3) The force of the words, "For Christ's sake," must be found deeper still, namely, in the worthiness of the person and of his acts. Many peerages have been created in this realm which descend from generation to generation, with large estates, the gift of a generous nation, and why? Because this nation has received some signal benefits from one man and has been content to ennoble his heirs forever for his sake. I do not think there was any error committed when Marlborough or Wellington were lifted to the peerage; having saved their country in war, it was right that they should be honoured in peace; and when, for the sake of the parents, perpetual estates were entailed upon their descendants, and honours in perpetuity conferred upon their sons, it was only acting according to the laws of gratitude. Let as bethink ourselves of what Jesus has done, and let us understand how strong must be that plea — "for Jesus' sake."(4) If any stipulation has been made, then the terms, "for His sake," become more forcible, because they are backed by engagements, promises, covenants.(5) It tends very much to strengthen the plea "for Christ's sake," if it be well known that it is the desire of the person that the boon should be granted, and if, especially, that desire has been and is earnestly expressed. No, beloved, if I anxiously ask for mercy, Christ has asked for mercy for me long ago. There is never a blessing for which a believer pleads, but Christ pleads for it too; for "He ever liveth to make intercession for us."
2. Pausing a minute, let us enumerate some few other qualifications of this plea by way of comfort to trembling seekers.(1) This motive, we may observe, is with God a standing motive; it cannot change.(2) Remember, again, that this is a mighty reason. It is not merely a reason why God should forgive little sins, or else it would be a slur upon Christ, as though He deserved but little.(3) Then, brethren, it is a most clear and satisfactory, I was about to say, most reasonable reason, a motive which appeals to your own common sense. Can you not already see how God can be gracious to you for Christ's sake? We have heard of persons who have given money to beggars, to the poor; not because they deserved it, but because they would commemorate some deserving friend. On a certain day in the year our Horticultural Gardens are opened to the public, free. Why, why should they be opened free? What has the public done? Nothing. They receive the boon in commemoration of the good Prince Albert. Is not that a sensible reason? Yes. Every day in the year the gates of heaven are opened to sinners free. Why? For Jesus Christ's sake. Is it not a most fitting reason? If God would glorify His Son, how could He do better than by saying, "For the sake of My dear Son, set the pearly gates of heaven wide open, and admit His chosen ones."(4) This is the only motive which can ever move the heart of God.
II. THE BELIEVER'S GREAT MOTIVE FOR SERVICE.
1. We begin with a few hints as to what service is expected of us.(1) One of the first things which every Christian should feel bound to do "for Christ's sake" is to avenge His death. "Avenge His death," says one, "upon whom?" Upon His murderers. And who were they? Our sins! our sins!(2) Then, next, the Christian is expected to exalt his Master's name, and to do much to honour His memory, for Christ's sake. You remember that queen, who, when her husband died, thought she could never honour him too much, and built a tomb so famous, that though it was only named from him, it remains, to this day, the name of every splendid memorial — the mausoleum. Now let us feel that we cannot erect anything too famous for the honour of Christ — that our life will be well spent in making His name famous. Let us pile up the unhewn stones of goodness, self-denial, kindness, virtue, grace; let us lay these one upon another, and build up a memorial for Jesus Christ, so that whosoever passes us by, may know that we have been with Jesus, and have learned of Him.(3) And above all, "for Jesus' sake" should be a motive to fill us with intense sympathy with Him. He has many sheep, and some of them are wandering; let us go after them, my brethren, for the Shepherd's sake.
2. A few words, lastly, by way of exhortation on this point. Clear as the sound of a trumpet startling men from slumber, and bewitching as the sound of martial music to the soldier when he marches to the conflict, ought to be the matchless melody of this word. Review, my brethren, the heroic struggles of the Lord's people, and here we turn to the brightest page of the world's annals! Think of the suffering of God's people through the Maccabean war! How marvellous was their courage when Antiochus Epiphanes took the feeblest among the Jews to constrain them to break the law, and found himself weak as water before their dauntless resolve. Aged women and feeble children overcame the tyrant. Their tongues were torn out; they were sawn asunder; they were broiled on the fire; they were pierced with knives; but no kind of torture could subdue the indomitable spirit of God's chosen people. Think of the Christian heroism of the first centuries; remember Blandina tossed upon the horns of bulls and set in a red-hot iron chair; think of the martyrs given up to the lions in the amphitheatre, amidst the revilings of the Roman mob; dragged to their death at the heels of wild horses, or, like Marcus Arethusa, smeared with honey and stung to death by bees; and yet in which case did the enemy triumph? In none! They were more than conquerors through Him that loved them! And why? Because they did it all "for Christ's sake," and Christ's sake alone. Think of the cruelty which stained the snows of the Switzer's Alps, and the grass of Piedmont's Valleys, blood red with the murdered Waldenses and Albigenses, and honour the heroism of those who, in their deaths, counted not their lives dear to them "for Christ's sake." Walk this afternoon to your own Smithfield, and stand upon the sacred spot where the martyrs leaped into their chariot of fire, leaving their ashes on the ground, "for Jesus' sake." In Edinburgh, stand on the well known stones consecrated with covenanting gore, where the axe and the hangman set free the spirits of men who rejoiced to suffer for Christ's sake. Remember those fugitives "for Christ's sake," meeting in the glens and crags of Scotia's every hill, "for Christ's sake." They were daunted by nothing — they dared everything "for Christ's sake." Think, too, of what missionaries have done "for Christ's sake." With no weapon but the Bible, they have landed among cannibals, and have subdued them to the power of the gospel; with no hope of gain, except in the reward which the Lord has reserved for every faithful one, they have gone where the most enterprizing trader dared not go, passed through barriers impenetrable to the courage of men who sought after gold, but to be pierced by men who sought after souls.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. The first word to think about is, "FOR CHRIST'S SAKE." We use these words very often; but probably we have never thought of their force, and even at this time we cannot bring forth the whole of their meaning. What does it mean?
1. It means, surely, first, for the sake of the great atonement which Christ has offered.
2. God has forgiven us because of the representative character of Christ. God for Christ's sake has accepted us in Him, has forgiven us in Him, and looks upon us with love infinite and changeless in Him.
3. Now go a little further. When we read, "for Christ's sake," it surely means for the deep love which the Father bears Him.
4. God forgives sin for the sake of glorifying Christ. Christ took the shame that He might magnify His Father, and now His Father delights to magnify Him by blotting out the sin.
II. WHAT IT IS THAT HAS BEEN DONE FOR US, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE. "God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you."
1. Pardon is not a prize to be run for, but a blessing received at the first step of the race.
2. This forgiveness is continuous.
3. It is most free.
4. It is full.
5. Eternal. God will never rake up our past offences, and a second time impute them.
6. Divine. There is such a truth, reality, and emphasis in the pardon of God as you can never find in the pardon of man; for though a man should forgive all you have done against him, yet it is more than you could expect that he should quite forget it; but the Lord says, "Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more forever." If a man has played you false, although you have forgiven him, you are not likely to trust him again. But see how the Lord deals with His people, e.g., Peter, Paul.
III. A POINT OF PRACTICE. "Forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." Now, observe how the apostle puts it. Does he say "forgiving another"? No, that is not the text, if you look at it. It is "forgiving one another." One another! Ah, then that means that if you have to forgive today, it is very likely that you will yourself need to be forgiven tomorrow, for it is "forgiving one another." It is turn and turn about, a mutual operation, a cooperative service.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)Matthew 18:23-35). In fine, as God in Christ forgives sin, so believers in Christ, feeling their union to Him, breathing His Spirit, and doing homage to His law of love, learn to forgive one another.
(J. Eadie, D. D.)
(H. R. Story, D. D.)will forgive you." But that is not the basis from which the apostle's argument here, and his argument everywhere, springs. "Even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." So that if you are not a "forgiven" man, the argument drops. How can a machine go, if you take out the mainspring? How can love in the heart of a man move aright, without its motive power? And what motive power can move a man to bear all he has to bear, and to do all he has to do, in such a world as this, but love? And where is love if you are not forgiven?" Nobody really knows God till he is "forgiven"; and how shall a man practise love till he knows God? Is not all love, God? Here, then, we take our beginning. As a mathematician claims a certain first principle, and assumes it is granted, and calls it his axiom, so we make it our axiom, "You are forgiven." I cannot carry on my reasoning a single step without that. Now, in the character of this "forgiveness" — which is the elementary principle of all religion — there are three points, which I would ask you to look at in detail.
1. It was originating. I mean, it was not you went forth to it; but it went forth to you. It was ready before you thought of it. It was ready before you were born. It sought you. At the best, you can do nothing but accept it.
2. It is universal. It cannot, in the nature of things, be partial. I mean, there is no such thing as being "forgiven" for one sin, while, at the same time, you are not "forgiven" for another sin. It is all or none. The blood of Christ never washes one sin out. The robe of Christ never covers one part of a man. Everything is "forgiven."
3. The "forgiveness" is absolute. There is not a vestige of displeasure. There is no resurrection of "forgiven" sins. They shall never be mentioned any more. They are "cast into the depths of the sea." O brethren! what an atmosphere of love we ought all to be living in, as many of you as know Christ. What a practical rule and measure we have, by which to draw our line, every day, into thousands of little acts and thoughts. It is simply this — "How did God act to me, when He stood in a corresponding relation to me?" But I ask, Is any one of us living up to that standard? I think not. Therefore let us now look at our measurement. "You see there are three things God tells us to be: kind; tender-hearted; forgiving. I am not sure that I know the exact distinction which is intended between those three words; but, I think it is something like this: — "Kindness," is an affectionate feeling, always going out into action. The Greek word used has something o! "using" or "serving" in it. A "tender heart," is a soft, impressible state, which predisposes to think and act kindly. And "forgiveness" is that loving spirit, which, preferring to suffer rather than to pain, sees no fault in another because it is so conscious of its own. It is important to notice that the "tender heart" is placed between "kindness" and "forgiveness" — the keystone of the little sacred arch. Everything depends upon it — a soft, "tender" state of "heart." Need I remind you, that everything in the world, every day, is tending to brush off the bloom, and leave the substance underneath hardened? But whoever wishes to be a real Christian must, at all times, and in all places, be jealously watchful to keep his heart "tender." The great business of life, it seems to me, is to keep the heart "tender." But how is it that we are not all "kind," "tender," and "forgiving"? There are many causes; but they resolve themselves into one — pride! pride!
(J. Vaughan, M. A.)
(H. T. Williams.)John Wesley had a misunderstanding with his travelling companion, Joseph Bradford, which resulted in his saying overnight that they must part. In the morning Wesley inquired of him, "Will you ask my pardon?" "No," said Bradbury. "Then I will ask yours," said the great preacher. This broke Bradbury down, who melted under the speech and wept like a child.
(Life of Wesley.)
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