Last Friday, one of my children came home from school and I requested that he do the vacuuming. Not a huge task I thought, but given the response I received it was clearly a big deal. This child knows that disobedience results in consequences that remove privileges or cost him financially. These two things are usually enough to provide me with compliance. However, he made every effort throughout the task to let me know me who was really in charge. This led to a heated discussion between us, which at its peak became a physical battle and a whole lot of nasty name-calling and hurtful words. I was so angry, that I reverted back to my childish “old self” in the hope of causing him the same pain he was causing me.
Attacking today’s devotion has been a very emotional effort for me. It has been difficult to read such phrases as, “…live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-4).
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:22-24).
“In your anger do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). I have grieved the Holy Spirit by letting unwholesome talk come out of my mouth. I physically brawled with my son, expressing rage, anger and malice. I was not kind, nor compassionate. Where was self-control? Patience? Love? Peace? Gentleness? The irony of writing devotions all week, only to end in a climax of conflict, would be comical if it were not so shameful. But I realize there are reasons God reminds us not to sin in our anger. He knows that hurtful acts and painful words all lead to disunity. He warns us that we must “be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15, 16). We must be alert to the enemy, especially during this time of earnestly seeking God for this city, as the devil looks for “foothold moments” where he can impede our prayer life, cause division and damage our relationships.
There is great power in unity and the enemy strives to separate us. It is all too easy to fall into sin. In response, we are commanded to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). The Lord knows we will sin, but there is never a shortage of grace and forgiveness. Accept it and pass it along to others.
The goal is for us to move away from our old, evil and divisive ways, through infancy toward grown up, Godly ways, “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ,” (Eph. 4:11-13).
I will pray for all of you this week. Won’t you please pray for me? Take some time today to search your heart, (it probably won't take much) and ask yourself: is there someone you have hurt or has someone offended you this week? Let us pray for the strength and courage to forgive and to be forgiven. Oh Heavenly Father, you are so good and your love endures forever, protect us from the enemy who seeks to devour us, help us to be alert to his ways and to stand firm in our faith.
It is all too easy to fall, but know that the Lord will always pick you up.
- Rina Carbol