Hi everyone! Our Scripture for today is Ephesians 4: 31 – 5: 2
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (NIV)
When I read this passage from the NIV it was very familiar, as I am sure it is to most of you. It was a series of verses that I’ve heard a few pastors teach about during my life. It has made me ask myself some questions over the years: Am I bitter or angry? Do I brawl? Am I compassionate and forgiving? Do I know Christ loves me and gave Himself up for me? The easy answer is no, I’m not particularly bitter or angry, I don’t “brawl” (that brings up images of wild-west saloon fights, so clearly, no) and I like to think I am compassionate and forgiving. Also, I do know Christ gave Himself up to redeem me!
Then I read how The Message says it:
Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
Oh dear, this way of stating things makes me think a little deeper about my skim-the-surface answers. Am I able to forgive another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave me? Without Jesus, no, I’m absolutely incapable of quick and thorough forgiveness. Maybe I need to take a deeper look into my heart. When I do, I see a heart that needs God desperately! He knows that so He tells me, plain and simple, “Watch what I do, and then you do it...” It’s refined down even further to tell me, “Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.” What a wonderful way to remember how to act and how to treat people: Look at God, do what He does – LOVE people! When I learn to LOVE people I am learning, from God Himself, to act like Jesus. And I DO know that Jesus gave Himself up from a place of true Love so forgiveness can be given to me and shown by me – quick and thorough forgiveness!
Father God, please guide us as we look to You, learning to love and forgive as You did through Jesus Christ on the cross. Thank You for loving us more perfectly than we can imagine! May Your Name be blessed with our every breath! In Jesus’ Name, AMEN!