Tuesday, January 24, 2017, 9:11 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “When in The Stillness.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Ephesians 4:25-32 (NASB).
Speak Truth (v. 25)
Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.
In the times in which we live, lying has become epidemic, even among the people of God, and even among those who profess to be ministers of God. In some cases, the culture of the area dictates that we should lie to one another in order to be “polite.” But, is it polite to lie to people? No! And, it certainly is not kind or loving. In some cases, pastors are actually being trained to lie to people, i.e. to manipulate them so that they conform to the “church’s” (business’) goals and objectives, or in order to save their own skin, for fear of being exposed, when someone sees through their facade. As well, they are lying to people when they dilute the gospel, i.e. when they teach a half-truth gospel in order to not offend the people of the world.
So, if you are one who speaks the truth in love, not in harshness or anger or bitterness of spirit, but truly in love, it seems the vast majority of the church here in America considers you unkind and unloving. And, they think they are being loving and kind by telling people lies, i.e. by telling them what they WANT to hear rather than what they NEED to hear. But, lying is neither loving nor kind, especially if the lie leads people straight to hell. So, if you are in the habit of telling lies, this is an exhortation to stop telling the lies, and to start telling the truth, following the principle of the put offs and put ons. In other words, if we want to stop doing something, we need to replace it with something else, which, in this case, is the opposite behavior.
In Anger, Not Sin (vv. 26-27)
Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.
The emotion of anger is not sin, in and of itself. It can be rooted in sin, though. For instance, if you are a selfish person who thinks everyone should do what pleases you, you might be prone to anger whenever anyone gets in your way, or does what you don’t like, or doesn’t do what you think they ought to. If you are filled with pride, you might get angry anytime anyone says anything that might suggest that you got something wrong, no matter how kind their words, or how pure their intentions. If you know you are living in sin, or that you have a secret sinful habit, but you are covering it up with lies, you might get angry just being around people who are doing what is right, or if someone does speak the truth in love to you about your sin.
As well, anger can result in sin. The anger may be righteous anger, or it may be anger rooted in sin, yet it may also result in sin if not dealt with in the right way. By righteous anger I mean we get angry over injustice and we hate the things God hates – “arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil, a lying witness who gives false testimony, and one who stirs up trouble among brothers” (Prov. 6:16-19 HCSB).
These things may stir the emotion of anger within us, but we must direct the anger to what is positive, not negative. In other words, anger is an emotion given to us by God to motivate us to some type of good action. It either points to the root of sin in our lives or it helps us to feel what God feels about sin, so it should motivate us to forsake sin or it should call us to some type of ministry which would help to alleviate these things God hates from people’s lives, or would minister God’s healing to those who have been hurt by the sins of others. Passion for what is good often results from the emotion of anger we feel when we witness injustice being done to others.
Don’t Steal (v. 28)
He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
When we think of stealing, what comes to mind? Perhaps we think of someone robbing a bank or burglarizing another’s home. But stealing goes much deeper than that, and much broader, too. When we steal from another we take what belongs to another without asking, i.e. without being given permission to take it. Stealing is also robbing and cheating another of what is rightfully theirs. A husband or a wife is cheating (stealing) from his or her spouse when they commit adultery (including viewing pornography), or when they have a private intimate conversation with another of the opposite sex or of same sex attraction, etc. When we fill out a time sheet at work, claiming to have worked a certain number of hours, but we lie, that is cheating the company. If we take things from work that are not ours to take, that is stealing, and we can’t justify it with “everyone does it.” Or, if we lie on our tax forms, that is cheating the government.
As the remedy for lying is to stop lying and to tell the truth, so the remedy for stealing is not only to stop stealing, and to earn your own way, but it is to share with those in need. Regarding cheating, it is to stop cheating and to stop lying, and to do what is right and honest and loving towards others. If you are cheating your spouse by viewing pornography, or by having private intimate conversations with another, or even by spending all your free time doing only what you want, without regard for what pleases your spouse, thus robbing him or her of love and affection, you should stop doing what you know is wrong, and you should begin doing what you know is right.
Speak Edification (v. 29)
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.
What is unwholesome can cover a lot of ground. Gossip definitely fits into this category, as does slander, lies, manipulation, sarcasm, and some teasing and kidding, cutting remarks, foul language, obscenity, and course joking or crude humor, etc. But, it also includes focusing our conversations around what is fleshly and worldly, rather than around what is godly. What comes out of our mouths says a lot about what is stored up in our hearts. For instance, if we are bitter and unforgiving with someone, it will probably come out in cutting, hateful and nasty remarks, or in sarcasm, or in unkind teasing remarks, as well as it may come out in gossip or slander, et al. What we think about people or about anything affects what we do, which is why we need to be renewed in our minds by the Spirit of God. When our minds and hearts are in the right place, our words should follow suit.
So, in place of what is unwholesome coming out of our mouths, which I believe is a heart issue, as is all sin, we are to speak what is good for the edification of the hearer, and according to the need of the moment. Now a lot of people think edification is just saying what makes people feel good, but it isn’t. It is a part of it, but not the whole of it. To edify literally means to teach, enlighten, inform, educate, instruct and improve another by what we tell them. It also means to build up, i.e. to encourage in the Lord and in the faith and in what is right, and to teach against what is wrong. It basically means to help one another to grow spiritually in our relationships with Jesus Christ, to follow him in obedience, to be in his Word daily, and in prayer, and to walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh.
Included in this are warnings against falling away from grace, idolatry, spiritual adultery and the like, and encouragements to obey God’s Word.
Grieve not Holy Spirit (vv. 30-32)
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
So, how do we grieve the Holy Spirit? I believe we grieve the Spirit when we go against God’s Word, and against what we know is right, and we willingly and knowingly do what we know is wrong, and what is displeasing to our Lord, and right in his face, too. It is when we take God’s grace to us for granted, or when we treat God’s grace as though it is all about us and our pleasure (freedom), rather than about God and doing what pleases him. We forget that Jesus died that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; that we might no longer live to please ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us. We forget, too, that “Lord” means “owner-master,” and that he freed us from slavery to sin so that we might become bond-servants of his righteousness, and walk (in lifestyle) in the Spirit and in his holiness.
He is also grieved when we sin against other people, and take advantage of them, and when we don’t love them as God loves us and gave himself up for us. We are not here on this earth to live for ourselves, but we are here to love God in all ways and to love others with god-like love, which prefers what God prefers, and which treats others with the same grace God has given to us. If God, who is holy and perfect can forgive us our sins, who are we to not forgive others their sins against us, for we, too, are sinners.
When in The Stillness
An Original Work / September 26, 2011
When in the stillness of this moment,
Speak to me, Lord, I humbly pray.
Be my desire, set me on fire,
Teach me to love always.
Help me to walk in fellowship with You,
Listening to You; sit at Your feet.
Whisper Your words to me,
Oh, how gently, guiding me in Your truth.
While we are waiting for Your blessing,
Lord, in our hearts be King today.
Help us to live for you ev’ry moment,
List’ning to what You say.
May we not stray from your word within us,
Help us obey You, Lord, in all things,
Walking each moment, Lord, in Your presence,
Our offerings to You bring.
Help us to love You, Lord, our master;
Be an example of Your love,
Helping the hurting, lift up the fallen,
Showing them Your great love.
Teach them to love You, follow You always,
Bearing their cross and turning from sin;
Walking in daily fellowship with You,
Making You Lord and King.