Daily Reflections March 24, 2017
In this chapter we find that verses 1-20 is a unit. We can see that it is a unit because of the literary device call an inclusio. An inclusio is when an author puts similar material at the beginning and the end of a section to indicate that section’s theme. It is like bookends or a frame of a picture to give structure for the reader. For another clear example, look at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-10.
In verse 1, we read that God abhors a false balance but delights in a just weight. In verse 20, we read that God abhors those of crooked heart but delights in those of blameless ways. It is always helpful to know what God considers an abomination. In equal measure, if we see in Scripture that God delights in something then we would be wise to take notice as well. So this entire section can be understood in the frame of justice and righteousness. There are two images he uses here. He speaks about the foolishness of the prideful person who deceives and fraudulently gains only to lose it all while facing the wrath of God in death. He also speaks of the senseless slanderer who belittles and speaks ill, inviting destruction on everyone including himself. The conclusion is clear: the wages of sin are deceptive, fleeting senses of satisfaction that will end in death only accompanied by condemnation; the wages of a righteous life are freedom and deliverance, wisdom and joy, and everlasting, abundant life in God’s loving presence.
The problem is that we naturally lean toward sin. But God delights in those who uphold justice, embrace humility, hold their tongue, heeds wise counsel, and have a trustworthy spirit. Of course, these are lofty things that will require more than a couple training sessions or “Chicken Soup for the Soul” motivational stories to do. We will never do what delights God out of our own effort. He must change our heart, grant us favor through faith in the person and work of Jesus, and empower us with His Spirit. Without that, we will be a modern-day Pharisee, thinking that we can adher to what God desires only to fall perilously short.
Yours in Christ,
Associate Pastor Evan Webster
Ephesians 4:1 is the hinge in this book. Paul has spent the last three chapters explaining the gospel of Jesus and now we see that word “Therefore”. Many, many times Paul uses this word to transition from teaching the gospel to teaching the implications of the gospel. In light of what Christ has done, how should we live? I am going to divide this passage into three parts for this reading. They go as follows:
1. Paul's hinge, and exhortation.
Paul has spent the last three chapters explaining the gospel to the Ephesians, now, because of that, you need to live in a manner “worthy” of your calling. Being saved is not a trivial thing. We sometimes view salvation that way in our world. Whatever floats your boat, is a common thought. We are relativistic in our thinking. Paul impresses on his readers that being called by Jesus is not a small thing. It is HUGE! So, we must live like it is huge. That means a changed life, different values, and wants.
2. The giving of gifts.
Paul goes on to talk about Christ’s giving of gifts to mankind. I want to notice a couple of things. Before Christ’s work on our behalf, we were captive to sin. In His work, Christ took our captivity, captive. He freed those, whom He called, from their captivity to sin. Then He gave gifts to men. I want you to notice that the gifts listed are people. The grace that God gives is often the person standing in the pulpit, or sitting next to you in the pew. Maybe this is why God reminds us in Hebrews 12:
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Hebrews 13:17 ESV)
Teachers and leaders are a gift to help us live the life that Jesus calls us to through salvation, and good leaders are definitely a grace from God!
3. The living of a new life.
The last section of this passage expounds Paul’s hinge. We are to live a new life, full of grace and humility, with the gifts that Jesus gave……but how? Here we are told to put to death the old self. Not to live like we used to. Don’t lie, don’t sin in your anger, don’t steal, work hard so that you have some extra to share with the needy, be gracious in how you talk, not to tear down but to build up, and be quick to forgive.
We carry with us the truth that leads to life. When we live in a way that honors Christ, we should look strange to the world. We will value different things, and the world will take notice.
Associate Pastor Jonathan Welch