On Monday we discussed the differences in the way Christians and non-Christians live. I implored you to make sure to test what any teacher says against God’s word to be sure that the whole counsel of God was reflected, and not just the “good parts”. I also challenged you to find ways to walk more worthy of your calling. Now that you’ve taken care of those issues (and we know that this is always ongoing)…
Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:25-32 (ESV)
We’ve all been angry … really angry. What are we to do with our anger? Why are we to get rid of our anger? Do you think it’s always possible to become “un-angry” by the end of the day?
Work: we know we need to work to pay our bills, but according to this passage, what is the purpose of work? Do you “share with anyone in need”? Maybe you can give one can of soup to a food pantry, or maybe you can buy one apple for a homeless person. Maybe you can buy a whole store. This passage doesn’t say how much you need to give. It says that part of our labor is to be shared. What can you do to share today? This week?
What do you think “corrupting talk” means? Is there any wiggle room there? Can you speak “corrupting talk” toward your boss – even if she is completely wrong? Your spouse? A church member? What would life be like if we chose to speak words only to build others up? Do we need to spend more time praying and less time speaking?
How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? What does “grieve” mean? Are we angering and disappointing? How would we do that? And would that be a function of the “old man” or the “new man”?
Oh my. We’re back to the verses on forgiveness (we studied these verses when we did our lesson on forgiveness in January and early February). Can you see how forgiveness can impact your walk with Christ? Can you see that unforgiveness is a characteristic of the “old man”? How are you doing with forgiving those who are deserving (which is EVERYONE, whether they have asked you to or not)?
Do you think that the characteristics outlined here come naturally to believers? Are they automatic gifts? I am certain they are not! If they had been an automatic gift upon salvation, we would have no reason to aspire to be more Christlike! We need to press toward these aspects of holiness every day. When we fall short of God’s expectations, we need to ask Jesus to forgive us (and ask others to forgive if necessary) and we need to press on toward the mark.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Phil 3:12-15 (ESV)
Press on, friends! See you next week (no post on Friday).