Ephesians 4:20-5:2 20-24 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
5 1-2 Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.
The Healing Power of Forgiveness
In my early twenties, I realized that I had major issues with my older sister. Growing up, I had felt small, insignificant and plain next to her and I came to see that her actions and words played a significant role in my feeling that way. I distanced myself from her and, although we lived in the same town, we barely had a relationship. Then one day I realized that it was crazy for me to be mad at her for how she made me feel. I should be mad at myself. I let her words and actions define me. Only I had control over how I felt about myself. With this realization, came forgiveness. I was able to release all my negative feelings about my sister and understand that she was a child when she said and did those things. It wasn’t fair for me to judge her childhood actions through an adult lens. With forgiveness came a fresh start – a relationship and, although we now live in different states, we have never been closer.
Recently I saw a childhood friend and when she asked me how things were between my sister and me, she was absolutely shocked to hear I had forgiven her and accepted the role I played in our poor childhood relationship. “You? You didn’t do anything. Are you crazy? I don’t understand!” She then proceeded to share the same gripes about her siblings as she always did in our youth. The hostility and resentment were evident. Her daughter later joined the conversation and complained bitterly about her cousins. I saw the effects of refusing to forgive and start fresh. I was saddened. I thought that when I had forgiven my sister that I had given her a gift, but I now know that I actually gave myself an amazing gift too. I gave myself a best friend. And I gave my children an example of healthy relationships. Forgiveness often benefits the one bestowing it exponentially more than the one receiving it. What an amazing blessing!
Prayer: Loving God, I offer you my hurts and my resentments. Help me love in the way you love, wanting people to be whole and healthy. Help me live into your love with the power to forgive.