Scripture

Ephesians 4:17-32

Instructions for Christian Living

 

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned 21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Reflection

These words were originally part of a letter written by the Apostle Paul to the first men and women who were trying to live out a life of following Jesus in the large Roman city of Ephesus. Paul continually highlights that because of what Christ has done for us, we have not only been set right with God, we have been set right with one another. Christ made peace between all, abolishing the artificial boundaries and divisions that might separate us from one another. In Christ, we are now brothers and sisters. Christ has given us the gift of unity and our task is to live with one another in such a way that this great gift of unity is protected and preserved. 

Paul is also articulating that when we speak carelessly to one another, when we are insensitive to one another’s needs, when we are dishonest in our engagement with one another, we are not only making the life of faith harder on one another, we are also working against the very thing that the Spirit of God is seeking to do in our lives, in other’s lives and the shared life of our community.

This world is a mess at times, and it is our job, as followers of Christ, to allow God to work through our mess to create something “righteous and holy.” Relationships are the key to this experience. It is easy to be righteous and Holy all by myself! But in relationship, I am challenged to rid myself of old ways and live in a way that builds others up and blesses them.

We have been given a new life in Christ, whether that happened for you yesterday or 40 years ago. Every day, we are to wake up, “Put off our old self,” and “Be made new in the attitude of our minds.” We have been set right with one another, but we have to own that, live into it, and embrace it. This starts with you and with me. 

Prayer

Loving God, I know our world is not as it should be. Help me be an instrument of peace. Give me words to comfort and heal. Guide me to see through cultural barriers, hardened hearts, and destructive actions. Let me bring grace to those around me. Give me courage to see my neighbor as you see them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.