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Devotional: December 4, 2020

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4: 31-32 The Message

The season of Advent is about re-orienting ourselves. We are always turning away from sin, and towards the Lord. These two steps are emphasized in these verses from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Ephesus. All who heed them will be aided on their Advent journey to spiritual maturity…

Paul encourages the Ephesians to steer clear of backbiting, or attacking one another with complaints and grumbling. Further, he rules out profane talk. This is talk which is disrespectful to God, and to neighbor. It is the opposite of anything “Holy”.

Cutting words sometimes come in the form of sarcasm. Sarcasm is defined as a “sneering or cutting remark.” Fittingly, the word sarcasm comes from the ancient Greek word sarkázein, which meant “to tear flesh.” I don’t believe that any of us would want to be associated with such behavior, words, or actions. Here, the Apostle Paul tells the believers at Ephesus to stop all these negative behaviors.

Yet Paul does more than just commanding that the Ephesians cease negative behaviors. He makes a plea for them to adopt positive, Christ-like behaviors.

People in our world are not always kind to one another. In fact, some are downright mean! Our Lord encourages us to model our behavior after Jesus, and not the actions of other people.

I recently came across a quote by Anne Lamott, a writer who came to faith by wandering into a Presbyterian church as an adult. She said, “You can either practice being right, or being kind.” So true!

Ann also tellingly said, “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” I don’t believe that God hates any of His people, for the scriptures tell us God loves everyone. We certainly know that God disapproves any actions and words which do not reflect the love and honor He wants to bestow upon us.

Paul correctly sees that we all have a tendency to want to make God into our own, flawed image. It feels more comfortable. More than anything, the Apostle desires for God to form us into the image of the Lord. That is why Paul says, “Forgive one another as quickly and as thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”

Forgiveness. Kindness. Love. With God’s help, let us strive to embody such positive grace-filled qualities this Advent and Christmas season, and always…

Prayer

Holy Lord,

I offer my thanks to You, for I do not have to guess about the kind of words and actions You covet for me to speak, and to do. Forgive me when I fall short of Your desires for my path through life. Correct me when I become sarcastic, or engage in other negative behaviors. Help me to learn from the error of my ways. Let me strive to show others the choices You want for me to make in my own life. Help me to be kind, forgiving, sensitive and gentle with others. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to You. Today, and every day.

With a willing heart, I pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen


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