"Be kind and compassionate ... forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God's example, therefore ... and walk in the way of love... ." — Ephesians 4:32-5:2
Urging us to "live as children of light," Paul calls us to "walk in the way of love" as "God's holy people." As Christ's followers, we adopt a lifestyle of imitating God, showing kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. We learn to forgive because we know that God has loved and forgiven us.
As a pastor, I have often been asked me to preach on forgiveness. I usually focus on the theme that people who are forgiven must be forgiving. If we do not appreciate God's forgiving us, we have little motivation for forgiving others. Forgiven believers with grateful hearts readily express kindness and compassion for others.
Many Bible passages like Psalm 103 show us that God is forgiving, loving, compassionate, and gracious, and we can imitate our heavenly Father, treating people with compassionate, gracious love.
Kindness, compassion, and forgiveness are inseparable. We can't be very kind to someone whom we haven't forgiven. We won't show compassion until we grow aware of how much we've experienced God's love and compassion.
As Jesus' followers, we're called to share the love that he has shown for us. Doing so builds healthy relationships, honors our Creator, and grows his kingdom.