Growing in Grace

I often wonder if Paul was talking to us when he warned the Ephesians, “Don’t be children,  tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching” (Ephesians 4:14). Now I bet you’re saying, “This verse doesn’t apply to me. My foundation is Biblically solid. I’m not taken in by all the new gospel fads and frivolous gimmicks that are distracting people from Christ. I’m rooted and grounded in God’s Word.”

Yet listen to the rest of Paul’s verse: “. . . carried about . . . by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, where they lie in wait to deceive” (4:14). I grant that maybe you can’t be fazed by false doctrine, but Paul says you could still be carried away by a whole other issue. He is asking, “Are you tossed about by the evil plans of those who oppose you?” Ooh, that is a twist, isn’t it?

Paul’s message calls us to examine ourselves yet again: How do we react to people who call themselves our brothers and sisters in Christ, yet spread lies about us and accuse of us saying things or doing things we haven’t said or done?

When Paul commands, “Don’t be children,” he is telling us, “Those enemies of yours—the ones who use gossip and slander, fraud and manipulation, cunning and craftiness, deception and underhandedness—I tell you, they are all rebellious children. They are devious and spoiled. And they haven’t allowed God’s grace to do a work in them. So, don’t fall for their wicked, childish games. They want you to react to their meanness just like a child would. But you are not to answer them with childishness.”

In the next verse, Paul urges us to move on to maturity: “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). He is saying, “You can’t help it when people slander you or mistreat you in some way. There is nothing you can do to change the hurts done to you, the gossip spoken against you, the fraud and deception aimed at you. However, what you can do is use these things to grow in grace. View them as opportunities to become more like Christ. Respond softly, with a meek spirit—and here is the tough part: Forgive those who spitefully use you.”

Go ahead and take on the day victoriously and with a renewed devotion.

Doulos Studies

(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)

I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.

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