Ephesians 4:29-32 (NASB): Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
I have not blogged in a while. It has been an unusual summer and fall – family illness, illness and loss of a much-loved four-legged child, just the stuff of life. Looking back as I get myself ready spiritually and mentally for Carols By Candlelight, I realize that were it not for hope and grace and faith, I literally would not know where I would be (I think there is a song in that somewhere…)
Right now though, I am troubled. To present the Gospel clearly and compassionately, we have to live what we believe. Sometimes I just simply wonder about us – all of us – who claim that we are Christians and yet when we are supposed to be engaged in telling others about Jesus we do some pretty petty things that I am certain are not God honoring. I think it is best at times like these to think back on verses we learned in Sunbeams and GA’s (that’s “Mission Friends” and “Acteens” to some of your girls not quite my age) and Sunday School. This passage is full of those life lessons.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. – In other words, if you don’t have something positive, uplifting, encouraging to say – something that builds people up rather than tears them down, it is probably best left unsaid. Period. My Mama subscribed to that theory and was known to regularly explain that to us. It is a lesson I have not forgotten.
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. – I suspect at times I grieve the Holy Spirit just because I react (rather than respond) or just because I cannot have it “my way”. And I get mad. Or I make it about me. Or I am jealous because someone else got something I did not. And when I do (we do) these things, we are not setting an example. Life is not about us. Carols is not about us. Whatever is not about us. Sharing Jesus should be our focus. We cannot do that when we focus on ourselves and what is in it for us. I Corinthians 12:27 (NIV) Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. If some part of the body is not in sync with the body of Christ then we are not in focus. No talent is more important. No preference is more important. No personal desire is more important. What is important is that we lift each other up and we encourage each other and work in sync to share Jesus with those around us and to encourage those in the body of Christ who have needs and who particularly need encouragement.
Finally, my friend Terry Sims’ favorite verse – Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Back in the day, Terry painted this verse on a LOT of ceramic plates and mugs and things she made for others. And lived this verse (and still does). And so should we. Just be kind. Don’t be ugly. Don’t be passive aggressive. Don’t gossip. Be forgiving. Clear the air. Love one another. Respond as Jesus would respond. Let others see Jesus in you.
#Carols2014 is about change – the only change that matters. The one in your heart that will allow you to spend eternity with Him. I cannot share the joy I have in knowing that I am changed if others cannot see Jesus in how I treat those around me. My prayer today is that others will see Jesus in me.
Still Choosing Joy