My son and his family came and spent some time with us the last few days and honestly it took me a couple days to recover. I love my grandkids and I do not want to miss a minute, but I do not have the stamina I once had. But I am caught up on my rest and back in Ephesians. Today I focused on chapter 4 and only a bit of chapter 5. The part that strikes me in these passages is Paul’s desire for us to walk in love and to put away our old selves and put on our new bodies.
Paul closed chapter 3 with a prayer for spiritual strength. He prayed to the Father that – “he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 (ESV
And Paul urges us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling. That calling is where I started today.
Unity of the Body
I began with chapter 4 1-6 and as I read it I could not help but think of the division in this country. 2000 years ago God, thru Paul, encouraged us to unite in the body of Christ and there is still so much division. I read these words and I consider all the ways we find to divide up over color or economic class or talents but nowhere in these passages are any of them mentioned. Paul is very clear.
Ephesians 4:1-6 (ESV) 1
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Nowhere in that passage is there any reference to separation or putting one above another. Nowhere is one called out above another. In fact, n the Next passage Paul further speaks of unity in verses 9-16
Built on Love
Paul speaks of Jesus’ path and where he went and what assignments he made and why.
Ephesians 4:9-16 (ESV)
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
We are one body, when it works together properly it grows and builds itself properly in love.
I cannot help but notice one thing in these two passages. It is the foundation of love and working together. Paul also councils us to bear with one another in love. We are not perfect we still have that sin nature that can show itself, but it takes two to battle. One can fuss and be angry but it takes two to escalate that into an argument, and this isn’t the only time that Paul mentions it. In my Bible, there was a cross reference to Galatians.
Galatians 3:23-29 (ESV)
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
I read this passage out of Galatians and consider Paul’s Council and look at the violence in the world and can see no reason to add to it. In Christ Jesus, there are only one people. We are all united. God did not divide us by any trait or economic class or click. We are one people united under one God.
He is the reason for our existence.
Walk in Love for one Another
Look now at Ephesians 4:17-24. Paul reminds us that if we have received Christ Jesus we no longer can walk as Gentiles, those living in the flesh. We are no longer the same. We have been transformed.
Ephesians 4:17-24 (ESV)
17 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 19 They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that is not the way you learned Christ!— 21 assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, 22 to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
I shudder a bit when I read that passage. He minces no words, and the part that gets me is “assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus.” I shudder a bit because this letter is to the church and to me it sounds like if you are struggling with these things he speaks of you may not really know Jesus.
I looked at another cross reference from Colossians 3
Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV)
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
In this passage, it goes even a bit further to say that love binds everything together in perfect harmony. Again, the Lord does not pick any further than “God’s chosen one.”
I read on through the close of Ephesians 4 and the first paragraph of chapter 5 and in that Paul reminded me that I am a child of God. I should be speaking the truth to my neighbor; why? Because “we are members one of another.” He reminded me to be angry but do not sin and give no opportunity to the devil.
Ephesians 4:25-32 (ESV)
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 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. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
I love the closing sentences of this chapter. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” That is our hope. To be tenderhearted and forging toward one another as God in Christ forgave me. Paul restates it at the beginning of Chapter 5
Ephesians 5:1-2 (ESV) Walk in Love
1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4 is filled with illustrations of the compassion we are to have for one another. No one person or one group is above another. We are all children of God. Our model is Christ Jesus and there was no task and no person that was beneath his love and compassion. No one that he looked down on.
The world would choose to dictate my morality. I choose to follow Jesus and His example. I choose to follow my King and Lord, my Savior and Redeemer. I choose the absolute truth of His Word.
Father, help me that I might simply hold fast to your Holy Word and my hunger for Your wisdom never be satisfied. Thank you, Lord, for igniting this fire in me and giving me the fuel to keep it burning. In Jesus name, I pray! Amen!