Living by Grace

Dedicated to providing guidance in daily living through the power of God's grace as experienced in our union with Christ.


And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.     Ephesians 4:32


Ephesians 4:32 is part of a lengthy passage on the theme of unity in the church. It is a verse packed with words that would lead to that unity. We can assume that the major objective of the use of the word “tenderhearted” in this verse is that of unity in the church.


In Ephesians 4:30, Paul encourages his readers not to grieve the Holy Spirit. In verse 31 he lists several things that would grieve the Holy Spirit—bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking. Then in verse 32, he lists things that will bring delight to the Holy Spirit—being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. These are qualities that the Holy Spirit produces in the hearts of those filled with the Spirit.


The Greek word “tenderhearted” is of special interest. It is the combination of two words. One means “well” or “good.” The other word is often translated “compassion.”


The New Testament presents several uses of the word translated compassion leading someone to action. The Good Samaritan did what he did for the injured man beside the road because he was moved with compassion. In the story of the prodigal son, the Father was moved with compassion and ran to the son in love and in a spirit of forgiveness and acceptance. Jesus was often moved with compassion to do acts of mercy. One of the best-known works of Jesus is said to have resulted from His compassion—the feeding of the multitudes.


It is not difficult to see how one will be moved to serve fellow believers when moved with compassion—tenderheartedness. Actions prompted by it help bind a church together in a strong spirit of oneness.


A famous pastor said to a neighboring pastor, “Be kind to your people. They are all hurting.” A good and needed word for pastors and all believers is, “Be tenderhearted toward your brothers and sisters in Christ. They are all hurting.”


A believer does not become tenderhearted just by a decision to do so. He can decide to desire and seek a spirit of tenderheartedness. The treasure will be found by the believer living out his union with Christ.