ephesians  part VI


"I beg you -I, a prisoner here in jail for serving the Lord- to live and act in a way worthy of those who have been chosen for such wonderful blessings as these" (Ephesians 4:1).

While this verse reminds us that we should always seek to live and act in a way that honors God, it's also true that the reason for living a God-honoring life is just as important as the lifestyle itself. 

For example, a genuine Christian doesn't seek to live a God-honoring lifestyle to try to get on God's "good side," earn "points" with God or try to get God to do something that they want Him to do. A God-honoring lifestyle flows from an attitude of gratefulness to God for what He has done and that attitude should result in the kind of life that's worthy of the calling to which you have been called (RSV). A life that really honors God should reflect the relationship of mutual love that exists between God and His people. This, of course, represents a radical shift from the type of person who sees "God" or a force, a concept, or some being that can be manipulated to get what that person wants. 

There's also another important reason for Christians to conduct themselves in a way that honors God. You see, if you're a Christian youth, it's important to remember that people are always watching you, especially those pre-teens who want to pattern their own lives after yours. Remember that pre-teens often take their cues from you as a teen as they seek to imitate you in different ways. Keep in mind that there is another generation following right behind you and if you conduct yourself in a way that honors God, then you'll be sure to provide them with the right example to follow. 

So it's important to live and act in a way that honors God because you represent what a Godly youth should be to those who are younger than you and to everyone else that you meet too.

"Be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other's faults because of your love. Try always to be led along together by the Holy Spirit and so be at peace with one another" (Ephesians 4:2-3).

In some other versions of the Bible, the word patient as seen above is replaced by the word longsuffering. It's been said that this word "longsuffering" refers to the kind of attitude that someone takes when they have the ability to take revenge upon another person but chooses not to. This kind of person represents someone who is the opposite of the person who is argumentative, bad tempered, or easily offended. They don't seek to pay back or get even with those whom they believe have done them wrong and they bear patiently with others who aren't acting very Godly. This type of person is also someone who follows Jesus' good example...

"...Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. Follow in his steps:  He never sinned, never told a lie, never answered back when insulted; when he suffered he did not threaten to get even; he left his case in the hands of God who always judges fairly" (1 Peter 2:21-23).

Now this can be very difficult because of our natural tendency to try and strike back at those who have hurt us in some way. But 1 Thessalonians 5:15 reminds us to "Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else" (NIV). In fact, Jesus also spoke about this in a teaching that He once shared with His followers...

"But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!  In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too" (Matthew 5:44-45).

So as Christians, our actions must always be balanced by the responsibility of accurately representing God to others despite how we may feel. Now of course, someone might respond to this by saying, "So does this mean that if someone does something wrong to me I can't do anything about it?" Well sure, you can do something about it- the Biblical book of Romans tells you exactly what you can do... 

"...if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head" (Romans 12:20 RSV).

In other words, a God-honoring response will make the person who did wrong feel ashamed for treating you so badly. But what about the person who says, "I can't help myself- I have such a bad temper. Sometimes people make me so mad that I can barely control myself." Well if that's the case, here are two suggestions that can really help: 

  1. Read your Bible every day.  Remember that Romans 12:2 tells us, "Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God---what is good and is pleasing to him and is perfect" (GNB). The best way to transform your mind is to internalize God's Word each day. Getting God's perspective from His Word every day will help counteract the negative stuff that we are exposed to in our daily lives and show us the way that God wants us to handle the challenges of daily life. 
  2. Pray. Before you start your day, ask God to help you act in a way that's pleasing to Him. When you speak to God in prayer, be sure to ask for His help in controlling your emotions and acting towards others in a way that honors Him (see Philippians 4:13). 

The Scriptures also remind us that Christians should "… be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God's sight" (James 1:19b-20 NLT). Listening to God by reading His Word and speaking to Him in prayer each day will help you put that wisdom into practice! 

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Except as indicated, all Scriptural references taken from The Living Bible, 1971, Tyndale House Publishers


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