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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 4:17–32

Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. (NRSV)

Reflection
Avoiding conflict is not really an option for anyone. Whether it’s at home, at work, on a daily commute, or just about anywhere at any time, conflict just happens. The only question is how we respond to the conflict, and the response (or sometimes the lack of it) is what really matters. My wife and I have been very happily married for nearly twenty-five years and look forward to many more together, but not a day goes by that there isn’t some disagreement, some conflict. When those moments occur though, we can rely on a foundation of love, respect, and trust that we know is stronger than the conflict in front of us at the moment.

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he lays out several ways of building a foundation of love, respect, and trust that everyone can use and that could transform the world if we really tried to use them. “Speak the truth, . . . be angry, but do not sin. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Paul is not telling us to be a pushover and just go through life without a care, but instead to stand up for justice and all that is right and good. Conflict is normal, but approach conflict with kindness and honesty, confronting what is wrong and forgiving each other, knowing we are all God’s children. This is the only way real and lasting change will happen.

Prayer
Loving God, when conflict happens at home, at work, anywhere or anytime, help me to respond with love and grace so that real change and transformation can occur in that moment, that place, and throughout the entire world. Amen.

Written by John W. W. Sherer, Organist and Director of Music


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