Sunday, July 20, 2008

S.O.A.P. - Ephesians 5

Scripture:

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” Ephesians 5:1-2

“But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” – Ephesians 5:3-5

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light” – Ephesians 5:6-8

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light” – Ephesians 5:11-13

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” – Ephesians 5:15-17

“And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.” – Ephesians 5:18-21

Observation:

Ephesians 5 is so full of wisdom! I was going to include chapter 6, but it’s too much. (There’s much more in chapter 5 than I’m going to discuss here).

“Be imitators of God as beloved children”. I am a very visual person and often Scripture will present itself as a picture in my mind. The picture I saw in this verse was that of a father working in his woodshop, holding a hammer. Near his feet, with his own set of tools, sits his son, mimicking the motions of his father. He wants nothing more than to be just like him. And, the father, takes time with the son. He sits with him. He allows him to be part of what’s he’s doing. He shows love in a number of ways. So, we are to be imitators of God in the same way…as beloved children. We can only imitate Him if we take time to sit at his feet and to walk in His footsteps and learn who He is. A beloved child craves the attention of her Father and drinks deeply of His presence and love. And, how do we imitate Him? We “walk in love, just as Christ also loved [us] and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma”.

Walking in love and living like Christ is not easy. It’s a life of constantly choosing what is right and putting away the things of this world. I know I fail often. But, the scriptures always give us practical ways to live as we should. “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among the saints; and there must be no filthiness or silly talk, or course jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks”. Just as beloved children are a reflection of their parents, so are we a reflection of God. How many times have you see the parent reflected in the child? Maybe it’s with a mannerism or a facial expression. Maybe it’s with a certain phrase or way of saying something. In the same way, when we wear the name Christian, we give people reason to look for the Father in us. Will they see Him there? Or, will He be lost in the dirty joke? Will they see us and long to know Him? I pray that it be so.

We are to expose the deeds of the darkness for “all things become visible when they are exposed by the light”. Secrets are dangerous when it comes to the deeds of darkness. How often do we look the other way when a friend is flirting with sin? Loving someone means exposing the darkness in their hearts. I know that I have people in my life who are willing to expose my blind spots and call me out when I’m failing to walk in the Light. These people are dearer to me than I can even say. Accountability is one of the most important functions of Christian community. I often thing twice and even change course when I know a friend might ask me about what choices I’m making. When I know I am going to be weak or in a situation where temptation is strong, I make sure to tell a friend my fears so I know she’ll be checking in with me. This helps me choose the right path. Secrets and darkness go hand in hand. I keep secrets when I don’t want accountability. But, I am a child of the light, and cannot expect that my darkness will stay so. It’s best to choose the light in the first place and build relationships of accountability to keep me honest.

When we were talking about this chapter yesterday at Bible study, verse 18 put a smile on my face. “…but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things…”. It felt a little like a musical might break out! What a joyful setting! Loving on each other, speaking encouragement, even singing together and making melodies in our hearts to the Lord! Wouldn’t it be amazing if the assembling of the saints was like that?!? Ok, so maybe it’s a little cheesy of a picture, but the sentiment is great. Christian community should be encouraging and full of joy!

Application:

I need to spend more time at the feet of Jesus so that I may learn what it is to imitate Him. I must continually choose to put away the things of this world and walk in the light. I need friends who are willing to speak truth to me, in love, and shine light on the dark places of my heart. Secrets are not healthy. I need to live openly and honestly. If I’m walking in the light, secrets shouldn’t be necessary. I need to encourage and build up those around me with the words of Scripture, the wisdom of those who came before, and the joy of the Lord.

Prayer:

Lord, teach me to imitate You. I need to spend more time at Your feet and in Your Word. Thank You for pouring Your heart for me into the Word You have given. I need to spend more time there, drinking in Your wisdom and soaking in Your presence. I ask that You teach me to be like Jesus. I pray that You continually shine Your light into the dark places of my heart and expose the areas that must change in order to be more like You. I want to be a beautiful reflection of You and a light to those around me.

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