What should a mature Christian life look like? Is it the things we do, like going to church or reading our Bibles? Is it the “big sins” we don’t do, like getting drunk or stealing? What did Paul mean when he said, “walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Eph. 4.1)?
Isaiah 55 & 56
Picture of a Mature Christian Life
What does a mature Christian life look like?
Verse 1 begins with “I, therefore, … beseech you …”
Therefore! Because of all the things Paul had just explained in chapters 1-3—because we are “in Him”—saved, redeemed, sanctified, justified, blessed, set free—we should “walk worthy of the calling with which [we have been] called” (Eph. 4.1)!
Now in these last three chapters of Ephesians, Paul begins to tell us how those truths should be lived out. Chapter 4 says:
We should work to have unity and peace in all our relationships—in our family, in our church, in the workplace—wherever God places us (v. 3).
We should no longer be spiritual babies, tossed to and fro by every appealing sounding doctrine or new spiritual experience that comes along (v. 14). Babies need constant attention, are easily upset and will believe in every “Santa Claus” that comes along! We need to be rooted and grounded in the truth instead of wanting someone to make us feel good or think we need to be entertained all the time. We need to “grow up” (v. 15)!
We are to speak the truth in love (v. 15). That means three things should happen. We should speak—not clam up or give someone the silent treatment—ever! Nothing justifies that behavior in the life of a believer. Second we must “speak truth”—not half truths, not omissions of the truth, but truth! And third it must be spoken “in love”—not because we want to give them a “piece of our minds” or unload on someone!
That, obviously, means we don’t commit fornication or adultery. But it also means we don’t flirt if we’re married and we don’t flirt with married men or women if we’re single.
Ladies, it means we don’t dress like the covers of most magazines or some actress (and husbands, don’t ask your wife to dress that way, unless it’s in the privacy of your home). It means our beauty is to be primarily inner and spiritual. It does not mean we have to dress like a grandmother or be drab or unattractive.
It also means we don’t live with someone if we are not married to him or her … period! Having him stay at your house 2 or 3 times a week, or even occasionally, while you’re not technically “living together” is no better. You’re only deceiving yourself.
We’re not to be lewd, unclean or greedy (v. 19). No dirty jokes or sexual innuendos. No lies because “how else are you going to get ahead in business.”
We are to put off those habits and lifestyles of the old sinful nature (v. 22).
We are to work at renewing our minds (v. 23)—spending time in His Word, reading good theologically sound books, memorizing Scripture and meditating on it—thinking about how it is to be lived out in our lives personally.
We are to put on new righteous habits and lifestyles (eph 4.24).
We are to stop lying, deceiving, omitting, hiding and coloring the truth; and become open and honest in all our relationships (v. 25).
We are not to sin in our anger, but deal with it quickly (v. 26). There are some things that should make us angry, but we cannot use that as an excuse to sin. We must deal with those sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions quickly (don’t let the sun go down on them). If we don’t, we’re giving the devil an open window to crawl—or charge—through (v. 27).
We are to become givers and not takers in life (v. 28).
We are to use our mouths to build others up by speaking words that are filled with God’s grace and are appropriate for the time and place (v. 29). At times that means we must speak the truth in love even though the other person may not want to hear it. Remember, God’s grace means He gives us what we need, not just what we want.
We’re not to grieve the Holy Spirit who lives in us, by willfully, knowingly choosing to sin (v. 30).
We’re not only to put off anger, but all its ugly cousins— bitterness, rage, clamor, slander, malice, etc. and demonstrate kindness, compassion and forgiveness, instead,—God’s kind of forgiveness—not that “I’m forgiving you because the Bible says I have to, but I’m watching you” kind of forgiveness (vss. 31-32).
If you’re like me, you read that list, and it’s tempting to think, “Why bother? I can’t possibly do all that!” AND YOU’RE RIGHT! But we are not called to do any of these things on our own or in our own strength. The very impossibility of “keeping the law” is what is intended to drive us closer and closer to Christ and make us more and more dependent on Him and the power of His Spirit to work in and through us.
So how do we do that? When we find ourselves with a desire to respond in a way that is contrary to God’s will, we must pray as James instructed and ask for wisdom (Jas. 1.5) and come to the throne of grace and find mercy and grace to help in our time of need (Heb. 4.15-16).
We must humbly admit to God that we cannot do these things on our own and call on the power of the Holy Spirit living in us. Remember that same Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives in us (Rom. 8.11).
The wonderful thing is that it’s when we recognize that we cannot do what God requires on our own and humbly come to Him, that He does His most incredible, transforming work! And our lives will become more and more the picture of a mature Christian life.
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Today’s Other Readings:
Spending Wages for What Does Not Satisfy
These have to be two of the most glorious chapters in all of the Old Testament! We see that God’s offer of salvation is for all who will come to Him, believe, and accept His gracious free gift. Ethnicity and race don’t matter, physical condition doesn’t matter, all can come!
Yet we so often keep God at arm’s length, not wanting to give up what we perceive as better—our freedom to live life our way, to experience what the world has to offer—and only discover after much grief and heartache that we have spent “money for what is not bread, and wages for what does not satisfy.”
Like a Joyful Mother of Children
Verse 8, “… He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children.”
Sometimes God fulfills that verse with a pregnancy where the doctors have said it was impossible or a marriage and family when we least planned or expected it. But at other times He fulfills that promise in other unique and special ways like a teaching career with a special calling and anointing from God, or a ministry opportunity that would be difficult if we were married or had children of our own. However He fulfills it, He will cause each of us to be “like a joyful mother of children” if we will trust His wise and perfect choices for us.
Let the Fire Go Out
Verse 20, “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.”
Notice it doesn’t say anything about whether or not the “tale” is true. Just because the “tale” is true does not mean we have the right to “bear” it to others!
Not a Fan: Becoming a Completely Committed Follower of Jesus
Pastor Kyle Idleman doesn’t just want to be a fan of Jesus, he wants to full heartedly commit to him and be a follower of Jesus. But how can you make the leap from fan to follower? In Not a Fan Idleman uses biblical examples to show how the people who met Jesus also had to decide if they were fans or followers, and what it meant for them to then become followers. Being a follower doesn’t mean that you go to church every week, that you slap a Jesus fish on the back of your car, and that you give to charity. That’s what a fan does. What a follower of Jesus does, Idleman observes, is die to themselves each and every moment of the day because “you can’t say yes to following Jesus unless you say no to living for yourself.” In this three part book Idleman helps you to discover whether you are a fan or a follower, how to recognize the invitation Jesus has given, and what following Jesus looks like in your daily life. With humor and real life examples to draw you closer to Jesus, Kyle Idleman compels each and every one of us to Not Be A Fan.
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Getting ready for 2017
The holidays are just around the corner and the new year will be on us before we know it. What will you do to make Bible reading an ongoing habit in the coming year? I’d like to encourage you to set a goal to read through the Bible.
And I hope you’ll sign up for my daily email. It can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track. I try to make comments that are relevant to the daily struggles and questions that I hear in my counseling and discipleship ministries.
Start today so you can begin the habit and it will be a regular part of your day come January.
You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Google+. Just click on the social media icons. But nothing replaces having the daily devotion pop up in your inbox each day. It, usually (once in a while life gets in the way), goes out at 3 a.m. MST, so it’s there for early risers no matter what time zone you’re in. As an incentive, I’ll be giving away one daily Bible to someone who signs up between now and October 31st and another one to someone who leaves a comment between now and then.
So will you join me and, possibly, encourage someone else to do the same. Let’s get ready and grow in our relationship with Him together.
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