Monday, February 7, 2011

A healthy discontent

Yesterday Kuya Oscar Villa preached on Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2. Here Paul was speaking about how Christians ought to conduct themselves in the Church. These actions are the result of—and can only be brought about by—a changed life in Jesus Christ. I love how the apostle Paul zeroes in on the heart and not on the external actions. This is, of course, diametrically opposed to the hypocritical religious leaders of his day who focused too much on the external strict observance of the Law, doing them without love for God and others.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but Kuya Oscar enumerated five characteristics of the changed life in a Church member (and practically anyone who has put faith in the Lord Jesus Christ):

Truthfulness in speech. "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." — Ephesians 4:25

Righteousness in anger. "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." — Ephesians 4:26-27

Generosity in giving. "Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need." — Ephesians 4: 28

Edifying speech. "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." — Ephesians 4:29

Kindness and forgiveness. "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." — Ephesians 4:30-31

In the next chapter, Paul says, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Reading this part of Scripture fills me with a healthy discontent. I'm far—too far—from being perfectly true in my speech, righteous in my anger, generous in my giving, edifying in my speech, and kind and forgiving in my dealings with other people. But these are God's standards. And true to His character as a Father, He graciously gives His transforming grace in our lives so that day by day, we can be more Christ-like.

I'm always amazed to see these characteristics overflow in the lives of some of my friends and people I know. How they give generously to the needy, how they speak sweet, uplifting words to the weary soul, and how they love Jesus Christ dearly! Don't you know how some people are so enamored with the Lord Jesus that He preoccupies their thinking, their speech, and their actions?

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