We’re continuing our walk through the book of Ephesians. Paul is giving some instructions about the walk of maturity.
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Ephesians 4:28 NIV
I realize that there’s an obvious understanding of this verse. Don’t live as a thief. Be a contributing member of society and the church. But I want to take it a bit further.
In the church, down through the ages, there are many Christians who are “takers”. I’m sure you know the type of person I’m talking about. They’re the ones who always seem to need something.
From their attitudes, it looks like they believe the only reason for the church, is to take care of them. It could be money, encouragement, prayer, rides, or many other things.
I’m not saying that we as God’s people shouldn’t be helping those in need. However, if the only thing you do in the church is look for help, then there’s something wrong. All of us, no matter our situation, have something to offer.
If I never do anything for others, then I’m not fulfilling my callings in Christ. Don’t be a taker. Make sure that you’re doing your part as a member of the body of Christ.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:29-30 NIV
If I’m going to be a giver, then I must be careful what I’m giving out. That’s especially true in the area of my speaking. My goal should be the building up of the body.
That’s why I need to be sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit. I want to build people up according to what they need, not my own agenda. The Spirit allows me to go beyond my own ability to help.
The word, benefit, in the above passage is important. It literally says that your words should be grace to those who hear you. That’s where the power of the Holy Spirit comes into the picture.
He wants to see the body of Christ built up. It grieves Him when we don’t walk according to His unity.
I know that many times we preach about grieving the Holy Spirit by our personal sins. But, in the context of Ephesians, this verse is in the middle of a section about how we’re supposed to treat each other. I believe that the Holy Spirit gets more grief over our treatment of others than our sin. The next couple of verses bears this out.
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 4:31-32 NIV
When we don’t treat others the way God treated us, it grieves His heart. Many times, we, as church people, are guilty of one or all of the above problems. We can’t allow that to continue, as much as we’re able.
Allow the Holy Spirit to speak to you today. If there are any things that you’ve done, or been a part of, that grieves the Spirit, take care of it right now. If repentance is needed, then do so. Sometimes it will require us to humble ourselves before another Christian.
Whatever it takes, clear the path of God’s blessing to fill your life. Then, allow it to spill over into the lives of others around you.
Question: How do you keep your relationships pure before God?
© 2023 Nick Zaccardi