Thank you for joining with others in this Online Bible Study. This forum is designed to promote thought, conversation, and understanding as we endeavor to live as "followers of Jesus". This study is dependent upon your participation, comments, and input. So relax, grab your cup of coffee, and let us study God's Word together.
Online Bible Study #9
Monday, March 19 – Friday, March 23, 2018
Ephesians 4:17 - 32
17 Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. 18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. 19 They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. 20 That is not the way you learned Christ! 21 For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up,[b] as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.[c]
a. Ephesians 4:9 Other ancient authorities add first
b. Ephesians 4:29 Other ancient authorities read building up faith
c. Ephesians 4:32 Other ancient authorities read us
Our study this week expounds upon a larger section of Ephesians 4 referenced in the message from Sunday, March 18, 2017. The major theme in the message focused on the importance of establishing and maintaining healthy, viable relationships. Such relationships, ones with God, with others, and with the whole of Creation allow us to live into the fullness of our humanity. As ones created by God for relationship, we limit our humanity when our relationships (all of them) are broken, fractured, strained, or damaged.
Each of us, unfortunately, has at one time or another experienced the hurt and pain associated with broken or fractured relationships. In those seasons of broken or fractured relationships, we find ourselves in a place we never expected to be; thus, anger, frustration, question, and bitterness towards others can quickly take root. Because of this reality, our natural inclination is such that we want others to experience the same hurt and pain we are living with. Even more, a dividing line is drawn in the sand and the longer we stay determined not to cross the dividing line, the more apt we are to be moved by anger and bitterness in our interaction with others.
What are we to do then? The Apostle Paul, in Ephesians 4:17 – 32 reminds his audience “to no longer, to put away, to give up” such vices that interfere with us living into healthy and life-giving relationships with God and with others. In concert with “putting away” vices, Paul calls us to express “kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness” as we relate to others. In and of ourselves this is next to impossible, but through the grace, love, and forgiveness of Jesus at work in our lives we can come to a place where we seek reconciliation in our broken and fractured relationships, with God and with others. Yet, the looming question is “Why?” Why should we approach relationships in this manner when society says and does otherwise? It comes down to the reality that our behavior matters and what we do in relationship with God and with others matters. Our behavior, our response, our approach to life (as followers of Jesus) will either position people to have an encounter with God’s love and grace, or an alternative approach fueled by anger and bitterness will cause others to draw the conclusion that speaking about forgiveness, grace, and love is simply words devoid of meaning.
Relationships, as we discussed during the message, are messy. Yet, it is in our relationships with God and with others that we are positioned to receive the greatest fulfillment in life. Paul says, “Put away those things that lead to broken relationships and instead, put on kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, love, and grace to begin the process of bring healing to all of our relationships; first with God, and secondly with others” (my paraphrase of Ephesians 4:17 – 32). Which will you choose?
(Please Respond to Questions in the Numbered Box that Corresponds to the Each Question)
1. What has been your reaction (or response) to someone who has wronged you in the past?
2. How have your experiences of the past influenced you to “put away” vices or “put on” virtues in dealing with broken or fractured relationships?
3. How might our lives look different if we more readily expressed “kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness” in our relationships with others?
4. How might our relationship with God look different if we more readily expressed “kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness” in our relationships with others?
5. Think about your relationship with God and with others. What steps (if any) do you need to take to begin the process of reconciliation with God and with others?
Gracious and loving God, we give you thanks for the blessing of this day and the privilege to study your Holy Word. May the Scriptures be a source of strength for our souls and a light that illumines the path you would have us to walk daily. We humbly ask that you fill our hearts, minds, and souls with the love of Christ, and in so doing, may your grace and love abound through our interactions with people. God, we praise you in advance for the manner in which your faithfulness will strengthen us to live into our calling “to put away” the vices of this world, so we may live as followers of Jesus. Let your faithfulness abound in our faithful response to you at all times and all situations, in Jesus’ name, Amen!
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