I’ve been taking a bit of a hiatus from the blog as my wonderful web designer, Tina Grobler, and I chop and change things around. It’s still a work in progress, but let’s get back to Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor… “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Those who have been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands… Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up… 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 form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:25–32, abridged)
After exploring theological concepts, such as how we live in Christ, Paul turns to a practical set of instructions as he continues teaching on the old versus the new. Each of these commands, as John Stott says in his commentary God’s New Society, addresses our relationships. Holiness does not occur in a vacuum, but in the real world we inhabit with those around us.
Stott also shows how each of the commands starts off with a negative prohibition, followed with a positive action. For example, do not lie, but speak the truth to your neighbor. Have righteous anger, but don’t nurse your anger. Stop stealing; make your hands useful by working. Don’t speak unkindly, but build others up with your words. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit, for you are sealed with him. Eradicate any bitterness, rage, fighting, and malice; instead be kind and filled with compassion as you forgive each other.
Old habits can die hard; we need God’s grace and help to change our ways. Today why not take Paul’s list and ask God to help you change just one thing. Adjust your expense report to make it reflect reality. Instead of tearing down your spouse or friend, pay them a compliment. Ask the Lord to give you compassion for someone who annoys you.
May God help us live out of our new selves as we put off the old.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes I speak before I think about what I’m saying. Reign in my tongue, that I might bring glory to you.