May 2, 2024 Devotional

“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” —Ephesians 4:30-32

Watching our newsfeeds, social media posts, and even seeing our own actions, at times, gives us a pretty clear picture of when the human nature in us (the old self) takes the wheel and we react to the world around us with ungodly behavior. It’s hard to see, especially when you and I are the ones who are propagating the old self and its ways. It’s a good thing John Wesley started with repentance as the first step in the process of transformation into holiness! Yet, what are we to do?

The Apostle Paul’s admonition to the church in Ephesus in our verse for today was part of a long list of attitudes and actions in his letter that the church must have, if they were in Christ and if they had put on the new self, as he calls it. This new self is the person that has invited and allowed the Holy Spirit to (begin to) transform their life into the likeness and image of God. And, this new self is distinct from the old self in that it shows the fruit of transformation in Christ while being obedient to Christ and His word. All that is easier said than done, and, honestly, obedience to the way of Christ is much more difficult than these few sentences of scripture seems to indicate.

It’s not simply that we get rid of things like malice and anger, but it’s that we allow the Holy Spirit to get rid of them so completely that we are new creations that don’t struggle with anger or fighting. In our world, that’s so counter-cultural that, even in the Church, we find it hard to believe, let alone follow. And this isn’t some sort of pacifism for the sake of peace. This is a radical surgery that roots out the cancer of ungodly behavior from our hearts that would otherwise lead us to destruction. That leads TO peace, and is lived out in a humble obedience to the One who died to bring peace and salvation to a broken world.

The question is: are we willing to bow our lives before a holy and loving God of grace and truth, so that every part of us is transformed into the image of Christ? Or, do we hold onto parts of our old self that act against God, so that our ungodly actions have a home that we justify as merely human? Christ is either Lord and Savior of the world and our lives, or He is not. When we act like he is not, then we grieve the Holy Spirit of God, even though grace is still at work in us. Yet, if we humbly and confidently step towards the God who is still in the transformation business, confessing our sin and bowing our very lives before His Throne, His Word, and His Will, then our lives are ready to be kind and compassionate, forgiving and loving. Those are outward expressions of the inward transformation that is occurring.

This week, in the midst of the anxiety of the day and even our bent to sinning, turn and face the God who has sealed you for the day Christ returns and put your life – all of it – at His feet to follow Him. Be kind. Be compassionate. Forgive. And live into God’s new self for you!