The Last Word

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Daily Reformation, Ephesians 4:25-5:2

From the Reformer

If by “men of mercy” he meant kind or tender-hearted men, this description ought to be carefully studied, by which the Prophet shows what is the true righteousness of the children of God; for hypocrites reckon this to be of no value. But nothing is more acceptable to God than kindness, by which we give evidence of our righteousness, and manifest that our heart is free from all hypocrisy. Yet we may with equal propriety take the phrase “men of mercy” in a passive sense, as meaning those whom the Lord has embraced by his mercy; for it is a phrase of frequent occurrence in Hebrew writings. Nor will it be inappropriate to suppose that there is an implied contrast between the grace of God and the wicked and unfavorable judgments of men; for they are wont to look on those persons as condemned who are taken away in the flower of their age. But, since God, in many passages of Scripture, represents gentleness and kindness as a distinguishing mark of his children, this may be, as I have said, a definition of true righteousness.

—John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 57:1)

Pulling It Together

It makes your head hurt. You thought you were having an honest conversation only to deduce that what was really happening was the other person trying to get the last word. It does not matter what you say, the other person will always correct you or try to best your reply. Smile. Give them the last word. Keep your pearls for another. (Matt 7:6) Trying to prove such a person wrong could be unloving; and it is always fruitless.

He likely does not care about right or wrong; he probably only wants to have the last word. At a certain point in such a conversation, “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) may amount to closing your mouth into a smile. The tender heart cares not for the last word or for winning an argument. It cares instead for the other person. The man or woman of mercy imitates Jesus, trying to show his love to others. This character appears weak but God is strong in these beloved children. Who knows, he may win the argument for you—speaking clearly in your silence.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reformation: Devotions with the Reformers

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