I met two wonderful women last night over Starbucks beverages and a tiny round table to catch up on life and discuss Ephesians 4. Ashlee and Rebecca are part of a slightly larger girls’ group we had going on for a few months several months ago. Ashlee started the group for the purpose of fellowship and accountability between us crazy women in our 20’s; we all just clicked, and it has been great laughing together, reading the Bible and applying it together, and praying together.
Unfortunately, life gets hectic and there have been a few months where it has just not worked out — but we started up our fledgling group again last night and I am so thankful for women I can learn and grow with.
Ephesians 4 gave us a lot to talk about. It starts out very broad and yet very challenging:
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph. 4:1, NIV, emphasis mine)
Paul, what a guy. I always admire how he is able to weave motivation throughout his words. I sometimes read a sentence of Paul’s letters and all of a sudden feel like I’ve found the key to Christianity and the energy to fulfill my life’s purpose. He was a great servant of the Lord.
Most of the chapter details, then, what a life worthy of our calling looks like. The main themes are love, patience, honesty, unity, and maturity. This verse is one of my favorites lately:
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” (Eph. 4:15, NIV, emphasis mine)
Maybe it’s because I’m at the age where I want to grow up. Not turn 27, or 28, or even [I don’t want to think about it] 30, but I want to be mature. I want to be a good, sound wife, and I want to be the kind of woman who sets an example for her kids (which means I have to work on myself now before I have them). I want to be a reliable, dependable, trustworthy friend, a helpful and compassionate daughter, a caring and insightful sister, etc. I want to learn, learn, learn — absorb all things, take criticism well & grow from it, be brave and venture into new experiences. I want to hear what I’m doing wrong. There’s no time better than today to address it.
I invite you, from casual blog visitors to my closest friends and family, to speak the truth in love to me. I want to hear it.
“Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.” (Eph. 4:25, NIV, emphasis mine)
Why? Because we belong to one another. We function best in unity. We glorify God when we are lovingly honest in true relationship with one another.
This really convicted me. I hate conflict and I try to be as easy-going as possible, yet of course, because I’m human, things bother me. People are human around me, and humanity can sometimes just be ugly and disgusting, or at the very least, annoying. I tend to harbor these thoughts and feelings, thinking that the longer I stuff the negative thoughts further back in my brain, they’ll eventually, blissfully, disappear. Not true. They don’t. Wouldn’t it be easier, for me and for them, if I were to be honest from a place of love, instead of secretly hating this or that thing they do? Obviously this takes discernment, but I bet there is at least one thing in each of our hearts/minds that we have been harboring towards another person that would be better spoken in love.
And of course, possibly the most challenging of all the verses in the entire chapter is this one:
“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.” (Eph. 4:29, NIV, emphases mine)
Oh goodness. Our current pastor once asked: if someone recorded every single thing you said throughout the day, including times when you are alone in your car or talking in confidence to your spouse, and played it back – would it be representative of Christ? Would it be an example of Christianity? What a challenge. I fail at this probably every day. It’s something to think and pray about – and maybe it would be helpful to become slower to speak, to think about what I say before it comes tumbling out of my mouth.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace…
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.” (Eph. 4:2-3, 31-32)