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LIVING FOR JESUS – Ephesians 4 & 5

© Rosemary Bardsley 2022

In these chapters Paul gives us instructions about how to live together as God’s children.

4:1 – ‘I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received’

We are called ‘children of God’.
We are called by Jesus Christ to be his disciples – to walk as he walked, to mark his footsteps.
We are call to be holy – set apart by God for God.

This does not mean that we should be superior, but rather ...

4:2 – ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love’

Here we are reminded that our calling is sheer gift:

We have no merit, no right to this calling.
We have therefore no right to despise our fellow believer.
Rather we have the responsibility to be gentle and to encourage them in their weakness, for we know that we also are weak and in need of encouragement.
It is said of Jesus ‘A bruised reed he will not break’ – Isaiah 42:3.

4:3, 4 – ‘Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body ...’

Here we are told not to differentiate -

Not to treat some believers with less courtesy than others.
Not to accept some and reject others.
Not to magnify some and disparage others.

4:25 – ‘Each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour for we are all members of one body.’

Telling lies is a form of despising both ourselves and our fellow believers.
It is also to despise our calling as children of God, because God our Father is a God of truth.
It portrays a low view of God and of the human being.
It is also a form of self-preservation, that is, of failure to trust God, and failure to trust our neighbour.

4:26 – ‘In your anger do not sin ...’

Anger, also, is usually a form of self-preservation and self-defence.
It is therefore another failure of trust.
It elevates me and blames or puts down the other.

4:29 – ‘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.’

Here Paul gives a précis of all that he says about what we say. He confronts us with questions:

Does what we say to others diminish and destroy others?
Or does it encourage them and build them up?

4:31 – ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.’

These things are usually an expression of self-defence –

A failure of faith.
A perceived need to boost our own status by destroying the other.
Here, rather than trusting in Jesus Christ, we react on the basis of a perceived need to defend, preserve and justify ourselves by accusing and blaming the other, often for the things of which we ourselves are guilty.
Both we and the other are destroyed.

4:32 – ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’

Kindness and deep-seated compassion characterize God’s attitude to us in Christ, and he asks that we have the same attitude to one another.

Here we see the other’s need and act accordingly – it might be the need for praise. It might be the need for a kind word.

We will not withhold it because they have sinned.
We will not withhold it because they have hurt us.
We will not withhold it because they are different.
Rather, we will forgive any perceived reason not to be kind and compassionate.

5:4 - ‘Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place ...’

Such things express contempt for both God and humans.
They encourage a low view of oneself and others.

5:21 – ‘Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.’

Here we are instructed to put aside our perceived rights and privileges in order to achieve the well-being of the other.
Because that is what Jesus did for us.