SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul begins the chapter by encouraging us to set our hearts and minds on God. It is so easy to be distracted by the demands of this world, but Paul says no to all of that and so should we.
- Paul then warns to let go of the sin in our life that is separating us from God. The list is lengthy and covers everything from anger, lust and greed, to sexual immorality and lying. These behaviors anger God and only tear us away from him.
- Instead, we should allow God's love to renew us and fill us with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, and gratefulness.
- Paul also makes it clear in verse 11 that we are all equal before God. He doesn't see race, gender, language, rich or poor. God only sees our hearts and his grace is offered to everyone.
- Paul then closes with some commands for husbands, wives, children, and slaves .We have discussed this in detail in 2 previous posts. Please read more on the subject in the post on Ephesians 5 and the situation of slavery in our post about Ephesians 6.
- Paul closes with a very powerful message. He reminds us that everything we do should done for God and not for men.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- The world is full of distraction: 60-hour work weeks, carpool for kids, soccer practice, limitless technology, family chaos, un-ending to-do lists, and so on. But, what would life look like if we focused our thoughts on Jesus instead? Our thoughts determine our choices and our actions and Paul knew this. So, truly setting our hearts and minds on things above will literally change the whole scope of our lives. It may not change the fact that you still need to go to the grocery store and pay the energy bill, but it will change the attitude in which you do it. Remember verse 17, "Whatever you do....do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
- Letting go of our old behaviors and attitudes and replacing them with new ones is not something that happens overnight. It requires a deliberate daily choice to turn away from our sin that is not like Christ, in order to be filled with those characteristics that really express who God is, living in us. Everyday that we turn our hearts and minds to Jesus, he will help us along this journey. Remember, we are not the ones changing our lives. We are simply leaving our lives in God's hands so that he may do the changing.
- We so often compartmentalize our lives. We view our jobs as worldly, and going to church as spiritual. We view cooking dinner as a boring necessity, and prayer as Godly. But, verses 23 and 24 change that. Paul says that whatever you do, you are doing for God. Everything in our life, from dinner with friends, to cleaning the house, going to work, and even changing the oil in your car should all be done well, to the glory of God. They are all spiritual acts because they are being done for God as an act of worship.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What has your heart? What holds your attention? The Bible says that Jesus should have my heart and my mind. But does he really? We can become so pre-occupied with work, kids, spouses, and bills and never bother to offer our feelings or our thoughts to Jesus. Don't leave him out of the equation of your day. Allow him to journey along-side of you.
- What old ways do you need to put to death? (See examples in verses 5-9.) What Christ-like characteristics can you exchange them for? (See examples in verses 12-14.) It starts with a choice, so make the choice right now to actually do this, and spend some time praying -- ask God to give you the strength to live up to your new commitment. Also share your decision with a trusted friend who can pray for you and provide accountability.
- How does knowing that everything we do is unto God and for God change your day? Does it change how you wake up in the morning, or maybe how you handle the stress of the day? Nothing you do in your day is mundane to God. All of it matters because you matter to God. Walk in that encouragement today.