Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ephesians 4:25-32

"Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. '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. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

"Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 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." NIV

When you see "Therefore," figure out what it is there for. Paul has been telling these converted Gentiles to live out the new life they have been given through Jesus Christ. Put off the old self and put on the new. Now he describes some specific behaviors and attitudes that need to be altered to line up with a life pleasing to God.

Everything Paul lists is rooted in selfishness. Lying - keeping yourself out of trouble or making yourself look better. Anger - not happy with how things are affecting you, so lash out at someone else or maybe just because you are not getting your way. Stealing - laziness. Unwholesome talk - again, you think it makes you look cooler or better than someone else; putting someone else down to elevate yourself. But the things that Paul tells us to put on are unselfish acts - kindness, compassion and forgiveness. A self-absorbed focus will destroy us. Part of taking off the old self is turning the spotlight of my attentions off of myself and onto those around me - those hurting, in need, or ones who just don't know Jesus.

Lord, reposition my internal spotlight. Help me recognize my sin for the selfishness it is. Teach me to be content with who I am and what I have and to look outwardly to others and their needs and feelings. I do not want to grieve Your Spirit, Lord.

Further Thoughts:
  1. Compare these "old self" attitudes with the Fruit of the Spirit that we are to live out in the "new self" as described in Galatians 5:22-23.
  2. Some will say it's okay to get angry because Jesus did. Reread that passage where Jesus gets angry. Is it rooted in selfishness or something else? (See John 2:12-17)
  3. The antithesis of selfishness is service. Using a concordance, look up Scripture with the word serve, service, or serving.
  4. Do you still struggle with any of these things Paul is telling us to "put off?" List them and surrender them to the Lord. Ask Him to forgive you and point you in a new direction.

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