Topic: What About You? (November 21, 2016)
Read: Ephesians 4:25–32
Bible in a Year: Ezekiel 16–17; James 3
The tongue has the power of life and death. Proverbs 18:21
Emily listened as a group of friends talked about their Thanksgiving traditions with family. “We go around the room and each one tells what he or she is thankful to God for,” Gary said.
Another friend mentioned his family’s Thanksgiving meal and prayertime. He recalled time with his dad before he had died: “Even though Dad had dementia, his prayer of thanks to the Lord was clear.” Randy shared, “My family has a special time of singing together on the holiday. My grandma goes on and on and on!” Emily’s sadness and jealousy grew as she thought of her own family, and she complained: “Our traditions are to eat turkey, watch television, and never mention anything about God or giving thanks.”
Right away Emily felt uneasy with her attitude. You are part of that family. What would you like to do differently to change the day? she asked herself. She decided she wanted to privately tell each person she was thankful to the Lord that they were her sister, niece, brother, or great-niece. When the day arrived, she expressed her thankfulness for them one by one, and they all felt loved. It wasn’t easy because it wasn’t normal conversation in her family, but she experienced joy as she shared her love for each of them.
“Let everything you say be good and helpful,” wrote the apostle Paul, “so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them” (Eph. 4:29 nlt). Our words of thanks can remind others of their value to us and to God.
Prayer: Dear Lord, show me how I can be an encouragement to others with my words.
The human spirit fills with hope at the sound of an encouraging word.
Insight: At first glance, today’s Scripture can look like a list of rules. Stop telling lies, quit stealing, don’t use abusive language, stop being bitter or angry. But it’s important to remember that these instructions aren’t just about changing behavior. They are about a change in identity. This list flows out of Paul’s earlier exhortation for the Christians in Ephesus to live according to their new identity as children of light (4:17–21). They used to participate in all kinds of sinful behavior. But when the Spirit opened their minds and softened their hearts (v. 18) to the truth of Christ, they were no longer dead but became alive in Christ. The Spirit renews our thoughts and attitudes, making an inward change that has outward effects.