devotion 11-28-15

Ephesians 4:25-32

25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

As the author speaks of putting away falsehood, he is speaking not just of not lying, but of putting aside false ways of living, as said earlier, the life we used to live. We put aside the false self, “the impostor” as Brennan Manning calls it, that “pretend to be the person other people want me to be” and become the person God made us to be, living in his way and will. We live as members of one another – not dependent, and not independent, but interdependent.

“Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.” This admonition is often discussed – what does the author mean? How can we make sense of it? Let’s begin by saying, anger is an emotion. We cannot always control our emotions, we simply feel. But we can control our response to our emotion. In a moment of anger, we can walk away, we can avoid harming or wounding a brother or sister. And so, we can come back, and make amends – the author says we should do so before the sun goes down. The point is not a specific time limit, but not letting anger fester and resentments grow. It is in the festering anger and resentment that the devil gets a foothold!

Putting aside a former way of living means those who were stealing should steal no longer, but should get honest work. That includes all kinds of stealing – whether dishonest business practices or outright theft. This passage is also taken out of context; people use it as an excuse not to care for the needy – but the whole point of getting honest work, the author says, is so that the person has something to share with the needy.

Our talk should be only that which builds one another up, giving grace. We should put away all bitterness, wrath, wrangling and anger, and all malice. Think about the places today where we feed these things rather than putting them away! To behave that way while claiming to be Christian is to grieve the Holy Spirit!

Finally, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us.

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