Category Archives: Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:30-32

Scripture: verse 30

Don’t cause grief to God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), for He has stamped you as His property until the day of final redemption.

Observation:  We tend to thing of our relationship with God as something we have to do well at: if we please God, He will keep us.  We have to spend all of our time watching ourselves and looking over our shoulders, afraid of screwing up.

But that’s not the case.  God has claimed us as His.  With the exception of refusing His offer, nothing we can do cancels His claim.  He’s already made that decision.

And in making that decision, He gave us the power to make Him sad.  My mom has repeatedly pointed out how incredible that is – that the Maker of the Universe would make Himself vulnerable to us.  But He did.  Because He loves us.

Our job isn’t to work to please Him.  It’s to smile up at Him, so that our DaddyGod smiles back.

Application: Smile, I guess.  Praise God for who He is, and thank Him for what He does.  And love others, because He loves them too.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, help me to see your love as a real thing in my life, so that I remember to smile up at you instead of worrying all the time.  Amen.

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Ephesians 4:26-29

Scripture: verse 29

Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them.

Observation:  I’ve mentioned before that one of my common failings is cynicism and speaking harshly of ideas (and people) I disagree with.  (Part of the problem, of course, is that I tend to speak of the idea in the abstract, forgetting that people are involved and might be hurt or offended or feel excluded by my words.)  Here we have the criterion I should be using: that which blesses others.

Which helps me reconcile the tension I feel in many cases, actually.  I have strong opinions because I think about things and am fairly intelligent, and that’s not actually a bad thing.  My cynicism has even been known to help certain people (usually Hero or my sister), in certain situations.  But I’m just as likely to spout off to someone who isn’t interested or doesn’t need to know, because I’m more focused on the idea than on the person.

Application: My goal needs to be to bless the person I am speaking with.  I’m not always very good at figuring out how to do that, but I expect that as I bring my heart into line with God’s heart, He’ll take care of the rest.

Prayer: Yeshua, help me see the people around me as you see them.  Help me to bless them.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:21-25

Scripture: verse 23

…you must let your minds and spirits keep being renewed…

Observation:  This is generally translated “you must be renewed” and the verb tense caught my eye.  So I used blueletterbible.org to look up the Greek, to the best of my ability.

The previous verse, which commands us to strip off the old nature, is in the “aorist reflexive” tense.  Reflexive is easy enough – it’s something you do to yourself.  I don’t quite get “aorist” but it looks like it means an action that started at a specific point in time and continues to the present.  (Or it can mean an action that continued and then stopped at a specific point in time, or just an action that happened at a specific point in time.  Like I said, I don’t quite get it.)  So the stripping off is something that happened at a point in time – when we were saved, presumably – and continues in the background today.

“Be renewed,” on the other hand, is in the present passive.  It’s something that still happens today, and it’s something that happens to us, not something we can do.  God renews us, and without His Spirit, nothing happens.

Application:  So.  The old nature was put to death.  Our job is to keep it dead.  God’s job is to renew us, and our job is to let Him.  There’s nothing we can do on our own – He has to do all the work on our shiny new natures.

Prayer:  Holy Spirit, thank you for renewing my mind and spirit.  Help me to listen to the patterns and thoughts you are teaching me instead of my old habits.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:16-20

Scripture: verses 16 and 17

Under [Messiah’s] control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love.  Therefore…do not live any longer as the pagans live, with their sterile ways of thinking.

Observation:  We have a contrast here.  On the one hand is the body of believers, who are learning to work together and support each other and build something that is bigger than the sum of themselves.  On the other hand are the pagans, who use ways of thinking that don’t lend themselves to the building of community.  They don’t speak the truth in love (or at least, they don’t insist on it, as Messiah does), and they don’t submit to each other in love, and as a result their society is sterile – it produces nothing.  Without grace, without the knowledge of God’s direction and training, we get nowhere.

Application:  Watch your thinking.  Are you seeking to love others, or to get your own way? Are you seeking the truth, or do you just want to be right?  God has a plan in mind – know that His plan is better than anything we could come up with.

Prayer:  Yeshua, teach me to be a part of your community.  Help me to support others and to accept the support of others.  Teach me to watch my thoughts and be gentle with others.  Help me see the goals you have instead of my own.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:11-15

Scripture: from verses 14 and 15

We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive.  Instead, speaking the truth in love…

Observation:  It shouldn’t be a surprise that we all start as infants.  It’s not human nature to discern truth instinctively; we need to be taught.  The previous verses were about the structure God set in place to make sure His people got the teaching they needed – emissaries, prophets, proclaimers, shepherds and teachers.  This isn’t something God takes lightly.

And it isn’t something we should take lightly either.  There’s a warning in here, against being too content to be an infant, and against insisting that we can figure it out on our own, without teachers and shepherds.  If we don’t seek out those who speak the truth in love, we are vulnerable to those who seek to deceive.

Application:  Listen to those who speak the truth in love. Listen to people who know more than you.  This isn’t confined to theology, either, given some of the medical quakery out there.  It isn’t fun to listen to truth, but it’s much more rewarding than watching the equivalent of those Baby Einstein movies all day.

Prayer: Yeshua, help me to grow to full knowledge in you.  Lead me to the teachers you want me to learn from, and help me to listen to them.  Thank you for being Truth, and therefore reliable.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:6-10

Scripture: verse 6

[There is] one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is in all.

Observation:  I’ve been talking with my mom lately about a word she got some years ago: that God works recursively, like sourdough starter.  Sourdough is traditionally made with wild yeasts, encouraged to grow in the dough over time, so every time you make sourdough you’re supposed to keep a lump of the dough in the fridge, to be “fed” and used to leaven the next loaf.  (I’ve never actually done this, to be honest, but I’d like to someday.)

Some people adapt this process to make “Friendship Bread.”  The starter is built up over the course of a few weeks, and then it is split – some goes back in the fridge, some is used to make bread, and some is packed up (with instructions and hopefully a loaf of freshly-baked bread) and given to a friend.  If people keep giving it to others, the number of people who have the starter grows exponentially and soon everyone is making bread.

And so we have this picture of God.  He is ruling everything, Master of Creation, counting hairs and watching sparrows and determining the fall of the dice.  He is also in me, using me and growing me and generally investing tons of time and energy into me.  He is also, at the very same time, in my husband and my daughter and every other believer on the planet.  And the amazing thing is, He is wholly Himself in each of us.  He isn’t split up or distracted or even juggling a million tasks at once.  He is, Himself, wholly present and focused on me.  And you.  And creation.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Like the starter, He is Himself in every single one of us.  And like the starter, He is changing each of us to be more like Himself.

Application: Trust Him and let Him do His work 🙂

Prayer:  Father, thank you for being in me.  Thank you for devoting all of your attention to me.  I praise you that you are the same and your love never changes, regardless of scale or situation or circumstances.  I love you.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:1-5

Scripture: verses 2 and 3

Always be humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with one another in love, and making every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit gives through the binding power of shalom (peace).

Observation:  The Spirit of God binds us together.  He brings peace, wholeness, unity, and harmony.  Our job is to not screw it up.

We do this by being humble (by having a clear understanding of who we are and what we deserve – which apart from God, is no one and nothing), by being gentle (by moderating our behavior and our reactions to what is beneficial for the community) and by being patient (by choosing not to be angry or demanding, but instead of wait and let God work.)  This…is not particularly fun.  At least not always.

I’m especially not good at gentleness.  I don’t know if I’ve gotten worse over the years, but there’s been a couple times recently where my sisters have deliberately cut me off to substitute their own gentler interpretation of the topic at hand.  I suspect I’ve just gotten more outspoken, but that’s irrelevant.

On the other hand, the mutual support and fellowship among people who put up with each other out of love is pretty awesome.  I’m glad that God gives us unity in the first place.

Application: Be gentle, just like I tell Beauty when she decides to snuggle Kitten.  Don’t do things that upset her, as I tell her when she squishes Kitten.

Prayer:  Yeshua, help me to love others properly.  Help me to see things gently.  Amen.