Digging in Deeper: Ephesians 4:31-32 Part 2

“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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
– ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:31-32‬‬ (ESV – Read the chapter)

In the first part of this reflection I asked the important question: Why be good? After thinking about it for a bit, I landed on the idea that we need a better foundation for our efforts to be and do good toward the people around us than most of the ones we encounter in our culture. As Christians we have one, but we sometimes forget it and trade it out for one that’s better than average, but still not the best there is. Namely, we often rely on the Bible to serve as our justification for being good. Jesus is better. Let’s talk about why. 

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Morning Musing: Ephesians 4:31-32 Part 1

“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, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
– ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭4:31-32‬‬ (ESV – Read the chapter

Why be good? Why do something kind for another person who may not be able to return the favor? That’s a question that seems more relevant than ever in our increasingly polarized culture. More and more today people who are different from one another don’t actually know each other at all and are more likely to think of “the other” as the enemy rather than as a fellow human being who happens to believe differently about someone issue than we do. Little good is coming of that. But, if we are going to make any progress toward changing it, we’ve got to have an answer to this question: Why be good? 

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Digging in Deeper: Ephesians 4:28

“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.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

God’s love moves outward.  That’s its nature.  It exists for the benefit of the other, whoever the other happens to be.  If we think we have love for someone else, but that love is not primarily oriented toward seeing them advanced in the direction of who God made them to be regardless of any benefits such a commitment might have for us, what we have is something other than love.  It might be strong, positive feelings, but it isn’t love. Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Ephesians 6:5-9

“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.  Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

Passages like this one often get the Bible criticized for being pro-slavery, or at least not sufficiently condemnatory of it.  Why wouldn’t Paul just come out here and declare it to be the evil it obviously is?  There are two reasons, I think.  One helps us understand the culture into which Paul was writing better, the other points to how God has nearly always moved people forward toward the ethic of His kingdom. Read the rest…

Digging in Deeper: Ephesians 5:25

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”  (ESV – Read the chapter)

If Paul’s words to wives were tough here, his words to husbands are even more challenging.  Wives are called to submit to their husbands as a function of their prior and larger submission to Christ.  Husbands are called to love their wives after the pattern of Christ’s love for the church.  That, of course, prompts a question: How did Christ loved the church?  Answer: He died for her.  He committed Himself to the last breath to seeing her become fully who God created her to be.  Everything he did was for her benefit.  Every single decision He made was filtered through the lens of whether or not it was going to be to her advantage.  For husbands, this is our standard. Read the rest…