Ephesians 4:17-32; Ezekiel 12-13; Isaiah 43
If following Christ means something, there ought to be a change in our lives. There is a fine line, though, between coming to Christ and seeing our lives change and changing our lives hoping to impress God enough to get Him to love us. Often it seems as though people who have come to Christ are seeking to impress God with their new lives; it’s as if they aren’t really sure of God’s love in their life and they are hoping to secure His love by their changed lives. Our lives must change when we come to Jesus, but that change comes when we stop striving to be good, and let God take over. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) As we strive to do these things, we are sometimes successful and sometimes not successful. We cheer our victories, thinking that we have finally put aside all of our bitterness about an issue, and then something happens and the bitterness rises to the forefront. We think we have mastered the art of forgiving others, and then someone does something to us that enrages us, and we won’t forgive. We cannot do any of this in our own power – at least on a permanent basis. We need to let God work in us to help us put the evil away and infuse us with the traits of godly living. When the temptations arise that would cause wrath, or gossip; bring them to the Lord. When people do things that make it hard to be kind or tenderhearted; bring them to the Lord. This isn’t easy, of course. If it were easy, Paul wouldn’t have had to write us to encourage us. This is a life long struggle, but even the struggle should draw us closer to God and help us become the people He’s called us to be.
Lord, it’s so hard to put the anger and malice away. So often, people deserve my bitterness and wrath – at least until I remember how You forgave me. When those evil feelings arise, remind me of how much You forgave me. When others are hard to love or forgive, remind me of how much You love me. Let me show Your heart to people around me each and every day.