Saturday, July 12, 2008

S.O.A.P. - Ephesians 3 and 4


Scripture:


“ This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” – Eph. 3:11-12

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you , being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” – Eph. 3:17-21

“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance or one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” – Eph. 4:1-3

“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” – Eph. 4:25-27

“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear” Eph. 4:29

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” – Eph. 4:31-32

Observation:

There is much to be said in these two chapters about how we are to behave as Christians and how we are to treat each other. I liked the phrases, “in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him” and “being rooted and grounded in love”. To me, it gave a picture of someone who was more than confident in the love of God. It makes me think of being a little girl standing on the edge of the pool, afraid to jump in the deep end. But, if I was jumping to my Dad’s arms, the fear disappeared. I had confidence that he would catch me, and that gave me boldness. I was rooted, grounded and secure in His love and knew that he wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me. I wish I really behaved that way when it comes to trusting the Lord. In my head, I say I trust Him, but do I really act like it? Do I have that boldness that comes from the confidence of being rooted in His love? If I can trust my earthly father not to put me in harm’s way, how much more then should I trust my perfect heavenly Father who is able to do exceeding abundantly more than I could think or ask?

The other part that struck me was the instruction on conduct for the believer. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”. Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Tolerance. Love. Unity. What would the world look like if the church behaved this way? What difference would it make I believers walked in a manner worthy of their calling? I know I fail all too often to walk in that way.

“Let no unwholesome word…but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear”. That’s a tall order. How much less would I say if I removed all speech that did not meet the standard of this verse. It sounds like the old saying, “If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all”. The words we speak should build up those around us, give solace when it’s needed, and pour out grace on the hearer. My speech too often does not meet those qualifications.

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you”. Paul asks a lot of the church in this letter. It’s a daily process, a lifelong process. It’s by embracing these qualities and uprooting weeds, like bitterness and anger, that we become more like Jesus. I have a long way to go.

Application:

I need to be more aware of how I am walking the walk. Am I walking in a manner that pleases God? I need to check myself regularly against the wisdom of these verses. I should speak less and love more, judge less and forgive more. It is in these ways that I become more like Jesus, which is the ultimate goal.

Prayer:

Lord, teach me to be more like You. Open my eyes to times when I am not walking in a manner worthy of the name Christian. Help me to show kindness and gentleness to those around me. Help me to hold my tongue when the words will not edify the hearer. Teach me, Lord, to guard my heart against bitterness, anger, and unworthy speech. Let no unwholesome thing reside in my heart. Prune me and shape me until all that is left is You.

2 comments:

jamie in rose cottage said...

S.O.A.P. ~ I'd never seen that acronym, but I like it! I'll have to remember that for my own Bible studying!

Christy said...

Jamie,

I can't take credit for the acronym. We've been using it at our church for a little while, but I'm not sure where it came from to start. It's been really helpful in our small groups. I hope you find it helpful in your study times!

Christy