Jesus doesn’t want us to deceive ourselves. Our behavior shows the reality of our faith. Jesus spoke about false prophets, but his words can be applied to ourselves.
Matthew 7.17-18, 20 – In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Thus you will know them by their fruits.
Paul outlined several behaviors that reveal whether we are a good tree bearing good fruit or not.
The method he used was to describe what not to do followed by what to do.
Paul’s message in Ephesians 4 can serve as a personal inventory. Each verse is a category that we use for self-evaluation and improvement.
Ephesians 4.25 – So then, putting away falsehood, let each of you speak the truth with your neighbor, for we are members of one another.
Evaluation Question: Have I put away deception and falsehood? Do I tell the truth? Do I recognize the essential unity of humans with one another?
Isaiah wrote 500 years before Jesus, but his words speak with conviction today.
Justice is turned back,
and deliverance stands at a distance,
for truth stumbles in the public square,
and uprightness cannot enter.
Truth is lacking. (Isaiah 59.14-15)
We may not be able to fix the lack of truth in the public square, but as followers of Jesus, we can speak the truth with all.
Ephesians 4.26-17 – Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil.
Evaluation Question: Do I hold onto resentments? Have I released people who have wronged me?
Anger is a response to being wronged.
When you have been terribly hurt by an offender, it is extremely difficult to begin to think about forgiving that person.
I don’t have space in the blog to adequately explain how forgiveness is the path to freedom from the pain of an offense. If you would like a deeper explanation, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ephesians 4.28 – Those who steal must give up stealing; rather, let them labor, doing good work with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.
Evaluation Question: Have I stopped stealing? Do I work? Do I set aside a portion of my income to share with the needy?
You may be like me. I can easily answer “yes” to the first two questions, but the third gives me pause.
Do I regularly set aside part of my money for the needy?
Ephesians 4.29 – Let no evil talk come out of your mouths but only what is good for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
Evaluation Question: Do I refrain from speaking harmful things about others? Do my words build others up and give grace to those who hear?
Jesus spoke of the danger of evil talk, “If you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council, and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matthew 5.22).
Jesus addressed another aspect of evil talk: “Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one” (Matthew 5.37).
The healthy Christian builds others up with words that are saturated with God’s grace. In today’s environment, this is a needed quality of God’s people.
Ephesians 4:30 – And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption.
Evaluation Question: What am I doing that hurts the heart of God?
A preacher once said, “A growling dog will stop a thief, but the same thief has no fear of God’s judgment.”
The discovery of secret sin brings shame to humans. There is no secret that is beyond the vision of God. Let’s determine to bless God’s heart through loving obedience.
Ephesians 4.31-32 – Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
Evaluation Question: Have I put out of my life the list of negative behaviors in verse 31? Do I embrace the qualities of verse 32?
There is a theme in Paul’s rules for life. Our inside condition needs to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
When the Spirit is in control, the negative behaviors will be minimized and the Christ-honoring behaviors will be prevalent.
The Holy Spirit prompted Paul to write these words because the world is desperate for Christians to live in this manner.
I am alone for today’s YouTube video. I am home with COVID and I’m feeling well, but I need to keep my distance. I will welcome being able to produce these videos with Rudy Ross as soon as possible.
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