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 affect 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 affect 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.

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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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