Paul Becomes Practical

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

Ephesians 4:25-28

In verses 17-24, Paul told the Ephesians that they must no longer live according to their old ways, instead urging them to live lives worthy of their calling, according to the ways of the truth they had been taught in Christ. Here, in this passage he becomes more specific in his instructions.

It would be well for all of us to consider carefully his words here, for they are both wise and practical. I hardly need to elaborate, for there is nothing in these few verses that will be news to anyone. We know that we should take care in what we say, that dealing with each other truthfully is the right thing to do, and of course we all know that we shouldn’t let our anger carry us away into rage. Oh yes, we all are angry sometimes, and often with good cause. But anger for a good reason is no excuse for losing control; everybody knows that… don’t they?

Well, maybe not. I know one young lady who, with good reason may become angry, but she seems to feel that since she has been wronged… yet again… by a certain individual that she can let her mouth go completely out of control, after all, she has been wronged again, so it’s OK.

Well, it isn’t OK. It’s pretty easy for me to see how this gives a foothold to the devil, particularly when the same incident is still the object of her wrath days later.

Stealing. Nobody is likely to tell me that stealing is OK, right? Well, of course if it’s just a box of pens from work, that doesn’t count does it? Spending your time at work on Facebook, no of course that isn’t stealing; after all, you haven’t actually taken anything, right? Well, except for the money you were paid to do actual work, no that doesn’t count…

What does Paul say about that?

Gee, on second thought, maybe we can all take a little look into the mirror and ask how we can represent Jesus better in everyday life.

Notice how Paul redirects all of this: No, we shouldn’t steal; everyone should do something useful so they can have something to share with those in need! I would take away from this the notion that Paul wants us to consider the effect all of our actions have on others, and in the process perhaps we will worry less about ourselves. Now if I were irritated by the comment above about doing Facebook at work, shifting my focus onto how things I do can effect others might just stop the rationalizing about how wasting time at work is my right, for I would come back to the realization that others are supposed to be put first in all our lives.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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17 Responses to Paul Becomes Practical

  1. paulfg says:

    Don – love this for the stirring of “that’s how it is” so often. I remember my dad (well paid manager kind of guy) helping do the lifting and shifting for three days with the “paid lifters and shifters”. It was because of an observation he made: that “skiving” for a few minutes here and there was almost a necessity – the pay was rubbish, the work was hard, and no one really cared what they did as long as “there were no fires to fight” on a manager’s desk. He saw it as their only way of “keeping their own chins up”.

    It was an observation so far from his usual “straight and narrow” approach it has always stuck with me.

  2. I have trouble with anger for sure; my mouth will start running when I’m angry before I can even think to be quiet lol. And letting go of anger is hard too for me; the sun goes down many times before I can even think to let go sometimes.

    • Don Merritt says:

      LOL, I used to be like that myself, such a temper. One day when we were 19, my best fried really ticked me off and I nearly killed him before my uncle pulled me off of him. When I came to my senses, the whole thing scared the you know what out of me; haven’t lost it since. Oh, and we’re still friends…

  3. Bette Cox says:

    But as long as we’re trying to do these things ourselves in our OWN strength, we’ve just traded one set of “Commandments” for another. We’ll fail miserably. These passages must be taken in their whole context. It’s the Holy Spirit living inside us, instigating and enabling his co-workers (us) to do these things, not us trying to keep a bunch of new rules and regulations.

  4. Tom says:

    Years ago God hit me with the thought on the stealing pens or little things from a workplace. I am always in a constant battle to keep myself under control when angry. It is amazing how many “little” things there are that we often overlook but are in reality sin. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I know some people look at me like I’m a nit-picker, but taking office supplies home, using the office photocopier, going over the speed limit ~ things everyone does ~ are still wrong. I wrote a little pamphlet about that in “Inspirations Under the Thinking Tree” called “Thank God I Only Commit Small Sins”. We may be good, but not that good.

  6. I found this interesting. I worked in a union shop where people were paid piece rate (I was a consultant at the time). I noticed that the workers would put some products into the completion bin and others into a box under their station. I assumed those were rejects, but thought there were quite a number of rejects. Thinking that was one place where the company was losing money, I inquired as to why they had such a large amount of bad product being made. I was then informed that they weren’t rejects. If they couldn’t keep up with the orders then the company would authorize overtime to get caught up, at that time the workers would pull product from the box and put them in the bin, for which they were paid time-1/2 instead of straight time, and they would just blow off the extra hours by working slower so that they looked like they were working during the full shift.

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