For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
Ephesians 5:8-10 (NIV)
Read : Ephesians 5:1-20
Consider: Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, reminds the believers that as they have turned their backs on their previous lives, they should now live as ‘… children of light …’ (Ephesians 5:8). Today’s reading from Ephesians 5 is really a continuation of what Paul said in chapter 4 and which the NIV puts under the heading of ‘Instructions for Christian living’. This means that to get a full picture of what Paul is saying in today’s reading, it is necessary to look back to Ephesians 4:17-32). Notice in chapter 4 Paul commences this part of his letter with these words: So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking (Ephesians 4:17). Paul wants the believers to ‘use their brains’; to use the faculties God has given them to know how to live for God and equally how not to live.
In today’s reading Paul starts off with a positive Christian attribute when he says: Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (5:1-2). As believers, God wants us to reflect the love of Christ in the world and to put aside those things that speak of our former lives without Christ. Reading through this part of chapter 4 might give the impression that Christian living is characterised by a list of things that we ‘must not’ do. However, while Paul points out things to avoid, he also mentions positive attributes to develop.
Paul tells the believers to avoid sexual immorality, impurity, greed, obscenity, foolish talk and coarse joking, and for thanksgiving to replace these (4:3-4). By implication we know that God desires us to display Christlike attributes that are the opposite of what the world values. God wants us to be sexually moral, pure, generous and for our speech to be characterised by thanksgiving. Our actions and our words should be in harmony.
Later Paul says: Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (4:15). Notice that this leads to Paul telling the believers to avoid drunkeness and debauchery, but instead to be filled with the Spirit (4:18). Rather curiously Paul then says to his readers ‘… speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit’ (5:19). I’m not sure that we would find our conversations with other Christians engaging if we only spoke to each other using the words of psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Remember that in verse 18 Paul contrasts the temporary ‘joy’ a person gets from alcohol, with the permanent joy they get from the Holy Spirit. One commentator states that the Spirit’s influence in our lives should be permeated with an attitude of joy, thankfulness to God and encouragement of others.
So what pleases the Lord? God desires that our lives should reflect Christ in every aspect of daily life and not just when we meet together at Sunday services, prayer meetings and home groups.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6).
Pray: Father, we thank you that in Christ we have been and are being made new. May your Holy Spirit fill us, enabling you to develop Christlike attributes in us. Amen
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