PFOA: Ephesians 4:25-32
Paul began this chapter by urging us to “walk in a manner worthy of our calling” (4:1). We are to put on the new self, created in the image of God (4:24). So what does this mean in practice? Well, in the remaining portion of this letter, Paul looks at various facets of the believer’s life and offers some pointers. These are by no means exhaustive, but provide a basis for us to prayerfully reflect on. The principle throughout is the same. Look at the Biblical pattern - what we are to put on; examine and reject the reality of our self-centredness - what we are to put off; be willing to make the necessary changes.
In 4:25-32, Paul focuses on our basic disposition. He has already written about speaking and living the truth in love. He emphasises this again, especially when relating with other members of the body of Christ. Lying (v.25), unwholesome and corrupting speech (v.29) are to be put off. James reminds us of the damage the tongue can do (James 3). We are to speak the truth in love for “truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent” (William Blake). One of the consequences of anger is that we lose control of our tongue, saying things that are hurtful and self-justifying. Paul took pains to list them as expressions of “bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander … and malice” (v.31). And perhaps the hardest thing we have to say is “I forgive you” (v.32). Satan knows this too, and this lack of control, of grace and forgiveness makes us vulnerable to him, allowing him to get a foothold in our lives (v.27).
This putting off/putting on of our disposition directs our hearts from where speech comes from. And this is to be accompanied by our actions. The illustrations of the thief and hard work can have an expanded scope of application (v.28). We are not to appropriate anything that does not belong to us, not just the money or material items as taken by a thief, but including the ‘intangibles’ of service, honour, and rewards. Conversely we are to work hard, and so have the resources and position ourselves in the place where we are able to help, support, give and serve with the results and fruit our labour.
After all it is the Holy Spirit who enables us to complete and achieve all that we accomplish, and in doing so we please Him. Taking the contrary route of self-centred will and reliance, we grieve Him (v.30), the One who is the guarantor of our salvation.