Ephesians 4:29-5:2 29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 5 1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 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.
Three things stuck out to me from this powerful passage and yesterday’s message. First, during the service on Sunday, Pastor delivered a stunning visual demonstration of today’s passages. He used an old suit coat given to him by a funeral home director to symbolize the old “self” (dead man’s clothes) and the suit coat he purchased and wore at his daughter’s wedding to symbolize the new “self”. He also attached a sign to himself that was present regardless of which suit coat he was wearing which read “GOD lives in me.” One of the most meaningful moments of his sermon for me was when he put on both coats, one on each arm, with that sign awkwardly pinned to his chest. What a mess! Seeing this poignant visual demonstration brought home to me just how conflicted I often am and, how absolutely lost I must appear to those who trust and depend on me.
Second, the first words of this passage are extremely powerful. Again, the words from the sermon yesterday resonated. Of all the creatures that live on the earth only humans speak! The spoken word is so very powerful. Consider that before a bill becomes law it must be read aloud at least three times. Spoken words created the universe and brought humanity into existence. How important is it then that we understand the power of the spoken word both in the positive and the negative; both publicly and privately. How many times have we spoken something in anger (or ignorance) that we wish we could take back. How many times have we not spoken up and later, often when it is too late wish we had. Indeed, this is a powerful message and heartfelt warning to us about the power of the spoken word.
Lastly, once we believe, we are redeemed, and that changes everything. We don’t change out of fear but out of love, because with CHRIST in us we are conflicted when we think and behave in any way that opposes his will and purpose for us. We do not change so that we will be loved; we change because we are loved. Once we believe, our fate and destiny is sealed according to this passage. Once we believe we cannot un-believe (there is no such word), we can only doubt. Our faith grows and our doubt diminishes as we strive to wear the new suit custom tailored by our Heavenly FATHER, paid for by our Savior, JESUS CHRIST, and express delivered to us by the HOLY SPIRIT!
Heavenly FATHER, we thank and praise you this day that our fate is sealed and our destiny assured because of YOUR great love. When we discover today that we have slipped into our dead man`s clothing because it is so easy for us to do, give us the strength and discipline we need to surrender to the new self you have handcrafted for us from YOUR great love. In CHRIST name we pray. Amen!