Updated: Dec 17, 2020
We just read about the power of the Holy Spirit within all believers. We're beginning to learn what to do with it. But if we never turn the key and start that engine we're going nowhere. As one of my dear friends once told me, "You can't drive a parked car!" Some people are sanctified by their belief in scripture. They understand the power, how it works, know the roadmap, but just don't have the will to turn the key. Ask God for the will. Each of us is tasked with Loving God first, then loving others. Hard to do in hard times, but that's why we have to look to the power given to us by God to get through these dark days by helping others. I think Paul said it best in Romans 8:28. "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." Read all of Chapter 4, then scroll down and join me for a discussion on how and why Paul split his epistle in two.
Paul’s letter has two distinct parts. The first word in Chapter 4, “Therefore,” marks the division. In the first three chapters, Paul urges Jews and Gentiles—two groups so divided it took an act of God to bring them together—to become one new humanity in Jesus. He goes on to explain the great measures God took to make these two groups into one. In the last three chapters, Paul shows how Jesus’ unifying work should impact every relationship and aspect of our lives. by listing the attitudes Christians should display to be worthy of their calling. Summed up in a nutshell, it’s becoming more like Jesus.
We all begin our new lives with a clean slate, growing more like Christ until we mature and measure up more closely to Christ’s standards. We become more patient, making allowances instead of criticizing because of a newfound love for others. I’m not talking about the emotion, but the ability to retain goodwill toward the unlovely and unlovable, those who don’t love us back, and even those we dislike. The old adage is true. Those hardest to love are the ones who need it the most. When Paul tells us to be humble and gentle, he’s not saying we have to be meek. He's telling us to overcome anger, humbly denying our egos, because life is no longer about us. United in a spirit of love, hope, and peace, we are one with the body of Christ.
In the Ephesian churches, it was about how Jewish and Gentile converts related to each other, accepting each other warmly, just as God accepted them. In our age of texting, tweeting, and disinformation, it’s more important than ever to relearn the lost art of relating to each other. It’s important to give up the “Me First” attitude and start thinking more about others. We’re all in this world together and it’s time to start getting along. We may not always get all that we want, but with God for our supply, we’ll get what we need. There are no shortages with God, the creator of all things, and He is generous with His adopted children.
Paul tells us to become more like Christ by speaking the truth in love, which is the gospel message. Hard to believe how hard it’s been lately to find either one. Paul believed Christians should reflect gratitude for God’s grace by the way they live. He acknowledges we all have unique gifts, given by God to help build up the church, emphasizing leadership, a gift much needed for a church's growth. A ministry’s goal should be raising the Christian community’s understanding so it can experience faith more deeply, grow spiritually together, and so gain a deeper knowledge of God’s son Jesus. This leads to maturity in the Lord as the Spirit performs its transformative work, which is part of the gift of salvation, making believers ever more like Christ. Mature Christians are not shaken or rattled by fake news. They’re grounded in their knowledge of God and the Good News and are able to discern and dispel false teachings .
We can all be an encouragement to others during these difficult times by treating them with kindness and respect. We need to practice new speech habits. Constant swearing, coarse jokes, and filthy language have no place in a transformed life. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit, identified as sons of God, and the presence of the Spirit guarantees our future redemption. He warns not to alienate the Holy Spirit, to cast off our old life like old clothes and dress—like God—in righteousness and holiness, and closes Chapter 4 with an admonition to be as forgiving to others as God, through Christ, is toward us..
Food for Thought:
How should a Christian lead his life?
What attitudes are consistent with Christian living?
Of what does unity of Spirit consist?
According to Paul, how should we live?
What should we avoid?