To move towards loving one another…we must move away from hate, anger, and bitterness. Here in Ephesians we are told to get rid of these negative traits and emotions. Interestingly enough, the Greek word for “get rid of” in this verse actually means to put away vices. Vices, a word you don’t hear often…a word that according to the Dictionary means habitual faults or undesirable behavior patterns. Sadly, too many children take into adulthood bad behaviors that were first modeled for them by their parents. They watch as their family inappropriately handles conflict and confrontation, and listen as others are slandered and vilified around the dining-room table. We learn what we see and hear, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put off our old fleshly nature and move away from adverse behaviors that are causing us pain and resentment.
God is ever merciful and kind towards you…regardless of how badly you act towards Him. It tells us in Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We need to reflect the mercy God first showed us by forgiving others. Forgiveness is so very powerful…because it’s the starting point for both parties to begin the road towards healing. For without forgiveness, there will never be a release from all the negative and dark emotions of resentment, anger, and bitterness. For without forgiveness, you are never really set free from the past.
God has things for you to be doing. It says here that with loving forethought, He readied them at the dawn of creation just for you. The Lord created you to fulfill these deeds of good to your fellow man…using the gifts, talents, and passions you possess in a totally unique way only you can. Even the vilest of us have the capacity to be kind…for we all are made in God’s image and capable of showing consideration towards others. We love because He first loved us is shown clearly in Titus 2:14, “Jesus gave Himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people who are His very own, eager to do what is good.” Let us be a people who are eager to do what is good.
If you get nothing else from this devotional today…please grasp this concept – nothing is too hard for the Lord. Job’s personal relationship with God helped him understand that nothing could hinder or stop God’s plan and purpose. Ephesians 1:11 says, “According to the plan of Him Who works everything in conformity with the purpose of His Will.” There is nothing that can prevent God’s Will from being fulfilled, for all power and might are in His hands. So if you’re facing impossible challenges today…take heart, nothing is too hard for the Lord.
Christianity is not a competition sport, but we sure can make it that way. The Lord tells us to serve one another with love and humility…but we’d rather make it a contest to see who can be the most spiritual…and the one whose the most highly respected and honored by others. So what we’ve done is taken the Lord’s words of submitting to one another… and done the opposite. Instead of being accountable to God with respect and honor towards fellow Believers…we approach these interactions with envy, competition, and how we can make ourselves look more saintly. Sadly, this “holier-than-thou” attitude is contrary to all of Christ’s teachings, and is actually willful disobedience to His Word.
Ephesians 4:22 tells us to put off our old selves…or rid ourselves of our old ways. But it’s almost impossible to do if you’re still hanging out with the same wrong friends… at places that got you in trouble before. Putting aside our old ways means we have to disarm our sins…exposing them to God’s truth and confessing them, but then ridding ourselves of whatever necessary to make a clean break from the past.