Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”
The words, like angry racquetballs, bounced off the four walls of the neat little home. Harsh dialogue spoken from the depths of raw emotions ripped back and forth – the competition was on. Raised voices shouted wrongs from the past and hea
rts ripped to shreds on both sides. In the heat of the moment, all that mattered was winning. But the satisfaction of the “I’m Right” game lasted only briefly, and a moment of smug glory ended poorly. An important relationship was damaged. What a price to pay for being right!
We’ve all been there! Sometimes it is so hard to keep our mouths shut in tense situations.
We know we are right.
We know we’ve been hurt.
We know we have interesting yet damaging information to share.
And we just need to win the “I’m Right Game”!
This is the game of the world and our sinful human nature is tempted by it, but God’s way is completely different. Ephesians 4:31-32 shows a contrast. The vices listed in verse 31 – bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice – are the reverse of verse 32 – being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. One set of rules destroys relationships while the other set builds them.
Why should we respond with kindness and forgiveness? The answer is clear. We should forgive just as God in Christ has forgiven us. We must walk in a manner worthy of our calling with all humility, gentleness, and patience learning to bear with one another in love. Our relationship with God should be evident in our treatment of others.
How can we abstain from playing this dangerous game when the competition is so strong? The NIV Application Commentary says, “We do not control the actions of others, but in choosing to forgive we establish control over our own responses.”
Some helpful ways to play by God’s rules are:
- Pray for early awareness of a tense situation so you will be prepared.
- Recognize the warning signs in your own body so you can choose your response instead of reacting.
- Listen and think before speaking.
- Speak softly and kindly.
- Change your thought process by trying to see the other person’s point of view.
- Consciously make a list of the good things about the other person.
- Seek to imitate God’s response to sinners.
- Trust God to bring the truth to light and to sort out the details of a difficult situation.
Our heavenly Father desires relationship. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die so we could be united with Him . . . and He desires that we also seek unity with others. This won’t happen if we play the “I’m Right” game by the world’s rules. Instead, be imitators of God and walk in love just as Christ loved you. When it comes to relationships, this is the only way you can win!