Today’s scripture is a continuation of last weeks, last week Paul was encouraging us to be in unity, because we can only follow Christ path if we are one body only if we are unified in heart, mind and soul, as one creation under God. Paul continued in chapter 4 to explain exactly what he means by this he gives us a list of do’s and don’ts six as a matter of fact. Six rules to follow. Things we should and should not do specifically we don’t lie, we don’t stay angry with one another, we don’t steal, we don’t debase one another, and we don’t act maliciously towards one another, we do not have hate for one another. And for every don’t there is a do, six things that we should always do we should always speak the truth with one another we should never let our anger become uncontrolled, we should always quickly forgive one another, we should always work so that we may have enough not only for ourselves but to give to others, we should never tear people down with our words really we should encourage them edify them and lift them up to the Lord. Always be forgiving never judgmental. And above all be imitators of God and walk in love not hatred, this is fundamental to being children of God to followers of Christ for we are born again we are new creations and have no need to hold on to the old sins. Let’s look at them one on one and their relevance to us. 25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another.
This is very important we must always remember that we are one body, lying to our neighbors our friends or family is the same as lying to ourselves and God. Lying is an original sin it’s right up there with killing and stealing, one of the big ten, thou shall not lie. John tells us in Revelation 21:8 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” It is death to lie, put aside the fact that you can’t lie successfully to God anyway you look at it, it’s futile. Still putting all that aside, Paul tells us this for a much simpler and more practical reason. Jesus is explicit when he speaks about lying and where and who it belongs to. In John 8:44 Jesus is speaking to the Pharisee and he is arguing with them about whose children they are, whether they are children of God or children of Satan and this is what he has to say about it “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Very truly I tell you to be a liar is to put yourself on the same plane as Satan. Why would we do that? Who in their right minds would want to do that? So, speak the truth it’s not hard, though occasionally painful, the momentary pain of an uncomfortable truth is less than the agony of eternity spent with the father of lies. Regardless liars usually get caught and what happens when someone lies to you… don’t you get mad; of course, you do. Righteous anger is well and good, and we have a right to be angry, being angry is not a sin. If anger were a sin, then God could not become angry with us for our sins. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. Simply put do not let righteous anger turn to resentment. I know you’re going pastor make up your mind. either it’s a sin to be angry or it’s not a sin to be angry which is it? Well righteous anger is not a sin obviously, but anger that is harbored in the heart and not resolved turns to resentment. Resentment turns to bitterness and that bitterness will eventually turn to hatred and that is a sin. once your anger turns to hatred you open the door to the devil and he’s more than happy to come on in make himself comfortable. That’s why Paul says not to let the sun go down on your anger, it’s also where you get the very bad marital advice of not going to bed angry, or as Phyllis Diller says, “never go to bed mad – stay up and fight.” I say bad advice because sometimes you just need to end it and start over in the morning, quite often you won’t even remember why you were angry and you can apologize and get on with life.
But Paul’s not talking about that kind of anger, no he’s talking about the bitter unresolved anger that eats at you and keeps you up all night, we need to let that go, no matter how difficult it seems to be. We need to recognize it, vent it and toss it in the garbage where it belongs along with these other do nots’. Like stealing, 28 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. Paul is not talking about a common thief in this context he is talking about someone who makes their living off others at the others expense. He is talking about those who do not make a living with their own hand. Who do not do an honest day’s work neither do they work hard for what they have rather they spend their time trying to find the easy way out trying to make the fast buck. Always at the expense of another. Instead Paul is telling us to not just work to be able to afford the minimum or even to afford the luxury’s in life rather work hard in order that you may help others less fortunate than you are. And listen even if you do encounter a thief or another one who is trying their best to go the easy route and con you out of your hard earned money 29 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. There is no need speak ill of another, even if that other is robbing you. It’s so easy to let those hateful words flow. Much easier than I forgive you, they come much easier than how can I help you, they come much easier than I love you. The same goes for those who cause any kind of grief or disappointment it is far easier to speak degrading and belittling words that make us feel larger, more powerful, bigger in our eyes. So much easier to say hurtful things than it is to tell someone it’s OK I am sure that you did not mean that, or you’ll do better next time don’t worry about it God loves you. But it’s essential to stop and think before we speak because we can greave not only others, we can grieve the Holy Spirit and Paul says 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. We are marked and sealed by the Holy Spirit. We so often use the Holy Spirit as a title as the third part of the Trinity that we forget the Holy Spirit, that God’s spirit indwells us. When we commit a sin no matter what sin that is, either to another or to ourselves we are committing a sin not against ourselves or against another, but against God. I want you to think about that for a minute I want that to sink in… when we express our hatred, our anger, when we say those nasty things to another person to another Christian or about another person or another Christian we are not just saying it to that person we are saying it to God.
Think about that and the next time, that bitterness, that anger comes up, the next time you feel that hatred, when those words about to come out of your mouth think about what it means and 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. God knows this isn’t going to be easy for us. Jesus knew that this wasn’t going to be easy for us. Paul knew it wasn’t going to be easy he knew that the more a person followed Christ the more they got into Christian living the more difficult it would seem to become, as G.K. Chesterton said: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” But the sad thing is that Christianity only seems difficult at first, at first it is very difficult but as Christ said [Matthew 11:28-30] 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” The difficulty is not in Christianity, not in living a Christian life. Brothers and Sisters the difficulty isn’t about Christian Living it’s about discarding our old life and learning to live as new creations, as Christians. 5 1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Amen.