As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (Ephesians 4:1)
The first verse of Ephesians 4 pretty well sums up the rest of the chapter. I admit that this is somewhat scary and intimidating. What follows throughout the chapter is a picture of what our attitudes in life should be, how we should act, what we should do and not do.
2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.
28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
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.
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.
I pick out key words for how I should be.
Humble. Gentle. Patient. Unified.
Truthful. Useful. Sharing.
I see what I need to get rid of:
Bitterness. Rage. Anger.
What stands out to me today is how important my mind, my attitudes, my perspective are to how I act. Note that we are to be made new in our minds before we put on our new self. And note that the Gentiles indulge in impurity due to the “futility of their thinking”, “ignorance”, and “hard hearts”.
So it starts with a right mindset. If I meditate on the thought that Christ is the head and we all are a part of the body, the same body, I do get the picture of how it should be, all working together toward a common goal. It also helps to know that I actually grieve the Holy Spirit when I am bitter and angry, and when I participate in unwholesome talk that does not build up but instead tears down. Ouch. What I notice is that there is no escape clause here. It doesn’t say “except for those people, the ones who are idiots who do stupid things and don’t agree with your point of view.” Sigh… there are no exceptions.
Lord, thanks for the reminder of how damaging bitterness, anger, and slander truly are. Thanks for the reminder that I am to be humble, patient, compassionate, and forgiving. I know that I can only do that with the power of you in me. Help me to tap into that power and more fully put on my new self.