Keskiviikko 26.9.2018
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Jos me elämme Hengen varassa, meidän on myös seurattava Hengen johdatusta. Emme saa tavoitella turhaa kunniaa emmekä ärsyttää ja kadehtia toisiamme. Gal. 5:25-26

Speak that which is good to the use of edifying

in English 11.5.2015 14:44 | Siionin Lähetyslehti
The focus of the letter to the Ephesians is on cherishing Christian unity and harmony, and our text gives us practical advice for doing so. Most of Paul’s exhortations are clear: speak the truth, do not squabble, do not say unfitting things, and put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil words, and all malice.
Even Jesus became angry

“Be ye angry, and sin not.” (Eph 4:26) This verse may seem quite unsettling. Paul exhorts the Ephesians to show feelings of anger so that a constructive discussion can be entered regarding the cause of such feelings. Feelings of anger were not foreign to Christ, either. The Scriptures tell us that Christ was angry when he drove the money changers out of the temple and when he discussed with the Pharisees about whether it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath (Mar 3:1–5).

What is the opposite of love? Often indifference–not so much anger–is considered to be the opposite of love. One could perhaps place an equal sign between a person’s indifference and a lack of love. We have an example of such a lack of love, which is contrary to God’s will, already in the first pages of the Bible, when Cain answers God’s question, “Where is Abel thy brother?” by saying, “I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?” In contrast to indifference, anger is a sign that another person is significant to me. Behind anger is some issue that hinders mutual fellowship and needs to be resolved.

Bitterness severs love

What makes anger problematic is the fact that often our corrupt nature surfaces and we display our anger by hurting our neighbor with evil words, deeds, or neglect. As a result, our human reaction is to reward evil with evil and become bitter. The advice given in the letter to the Ephesians to settle disputes before the sun goes down is always timely and important. In this way we do not give the devil an opportunity (Eph 4:27) to sever and displace the love of Christ from our heart.

“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may administer grace unto the hearers.” (Eph 4:29) According to the original text, corrupt communication can also be translated as foul speech or speech that spreads foulness. This covers words with double meanings as well as speaking evil, malicious rumors, and all speech that severs love. Instead our speech should promote the common good and joy and should benefit our neighbor.

Paul’s instruction to the Colossians was “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt.” (Col 4:6) Salt prevents food from spoiling. For a child of God it is also an exhortation to be an open mission letter and to manifest the love of Christ which calls others into the kingdom of God through one’s own life, words, and deeds.

“Forgive one another”

Obedience to the word of God ensures that, as Paul warns, we do not bring grief to the Holy Spirit of God which we have received as a seal for the day of redemption. The child of God has received the Holy Spirit as a gift which dwells in his or her heart. This gift is immeasurably valuable and needs to be protected at all cost, because thereby we are partakers of eternal life.

Our text ends with an instruction that is a good lesson for every day in our life: “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Eph 4:32) The congregation in Ephesus was exhorted to cherish unity and mutual love. The central element in this task is the gospel of forgiveness.

Even though the word of God exhorts us to avoid evil and to think the best of our neighbor, regardless of our best intent we are incapable of fulfilling the will of God. For this reason the child of God needs abundant forgiveness–power to ask for forgiveness and to believe sins are forgiven. A person who has received much forgiveness has much love.

Text: P.M.
Translation: K.K.
Source: Siionin Lähetyslehti 7–8/2014

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