Ephesians 4:29-32 (NIV) — “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every kind of malice. Be kind and compassionate to another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I’ve really come to appreciate these types of Scripture passages. This short passage was really helpful to me in my 30s when I first began searching for God and reading the Bible. Just in these four verses are clear and simple instructions on how to live a biblical life of faith.
The do’s and don’ts may seem overly simplistic, but I must confess — this line of thought and conduct was all new to me back then.
As someone seeking forgiveness and a righteousness with God, there are two verses in this passage that stood out to me.
Verse 30: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.”
Verse 32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
The definition of “compassion,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is the “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “compassion” as “a sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.”
The way that seems to bring peace is a basic set of Scripture, line of thought and practice. I lean on Romans 12:15-18 (NIV) — “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
I shared that passage because I think it vital for understanding — especially when compassion is dearly needed. Have you ever had those moments when you just don’t think you can take one more blow to the heart? Have you ever found yourself at the edge of breaking and giving in? There you are, fighting the desperate battle with depression, fear and/or doubt.
I’m certain we all have had some brushes with such moments. The thing is, most of us have overcome such emotional or spiritual challenges, but we can never really tell how close someone is to giving in at those critical moments. Most give a smile and give the ol’ “I’m fine.”
Have you ever heard this saying? — “I was judging my insides by the outsides of others.” Meaning that while we’re crumbling on the inside, we see others who may be feeling the same as us, but we see the same mask that we present. “Oh, I’m fine.”
I cannot help but be encouraged by Romans 12:18 — “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone else.”
That sounds like a simple, straightforward line of thought, a basic fundamental action. But we all know one day we feel like a saint, a split second later ... pure sinner!
I’ve actually chosen Romans 12:9-11 as my meditation verses to memorize.
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
Keeping such instruction forward rather than on the back burner may prove not only an asset for ourselves during those seemingly desperate moments but it may be just what we need to encourage others.
Lord, if it is possible, as far as it depends on me, allow me to be a useful instrument of your mercy and grace, in word and deed.