I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer. Click here for Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.
I try not to get too political on my blog. There are definitely things I feel strongly about when it comes to politics, but I also feel like in this climate, not much is heard clearly and too much is being said.
This chapter in Ephesians talked about unity, something we desperately need in the church, maybe even in our country, but I want to focus on the church because that’s what Paul is talking about. Starting in verse 14, he says:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
I’ve seen people talk about the truth without love, and I’ve seen people talk about love without truth. It makes me realize that this is a time for discerning, not in some legalistic way, but in a way that speaks towards growing up in Christ. If I’m not becoming like Christ more each day, then I’m just chasing after the latest blog or podcast that makes me feel something, letting my emotions guide me instead of the Spirit.
I’m not saying that you can’t be led by the Spirit through a blog article or a podcast, but I’m saying that even these good things can become an idol.
In this same line of thought, Paul talks about the things these Ephesians needed to let go of in order to be in Christ, to “be made new in the attitude of your minds.”
The two things that stood out to me the most were the “in your anger do not sin” and “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” So I want to unpack that a bit.
He mentions anger twice in this chapter. First, in verse 26 and 27 and then also in verse 31. He doesn’t say that anger is a sin. Anger is a response to injustice. It is very much needed in our world. But allowing anger to take hold of you, to root down deep and grow into bitterness, rage, even brawling and slander, that’s where it gets dangerous.
When I lost my daughters, I was never angry at God, but I was angry. I have been angry at a society that doesn’t recognize the pain that pregnancy loss brings. I have been angry at the thoughtlessness of other people’s comments or actions that heap coals on already suffering women. And when I don’t let go of that anger, bitterness roots in deep and vomits out of my mouth in slews of judgment and pettiness. It’s not pretty, folks. And that kind of anger can divide. I know why Paul mentions it twice.
Then he talked about the unwholesome talk, which I always thought was about profanity, but the second half of that verse talks about something different:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
This isn’t about profanity. This is about being critical without kindness, gossiping and venting to other people, talking without the expectation to listen. It’s helping others according to their needs, not yours. It’s a humble way of having a conversation. It isn’t about how right you are, it’s about helping a person who is already ready to listen. How many times have we seen on social media the back and forth vitriol that never seems to amount to anything more than an unfollow or unfriend?
And also, just as a side note, sharing the crazy to talk about how crazy it is to friends who already know that it’s crazy doesn’t seem to be helpful or building up anyone in particular. It just seems to be meant to tear everyone down, and again, divide us into groups who are yelling into the ether with no real desire to listen to one another at all.
This chapter really convicted me this week, and for this week, I’m going to use the last verse as my mantra wherever I go. I hope you will do this with me. I have it in the picture below that you can print off and tape to your mirror, which is what I’m going to do. Let’s be people of unity, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness this week so we can grow more into the image of our big brother, Jesus.