|Photo from Baptist Bible Hour|
This week, the emphasis has been on our friendships. Each of the verses this week has spoken to me about how I am interacting with my friends. I thought I would share my study from Thursday, which was from Ephesians 4:29, 31-32. (Interestingly, I studied these same verses for my Sunday School lesson this week! Think God is trying to tell me something?)
S [Scripture]= "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers...
"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." (Ephesians 4:29, 31-32)
O [Observation]: In verse 29, Paul gives some clear guidelines concerning our speech:
1) We're not to let any corrupt communication proceed from our mouth;
2) Instead, we're to have speech that is A) good for the use of edifying [building up], and B) that ministers grace to our hearers.
Verse 31 tells us the sorts of behavior we need to "put away" from our dealings with others: bitterness, wrath, clamor, anger, evil speaking, and malice. What an ugly list!
Then verse 32 tells us how we are to behave toward others instead: we're to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving -- even as God, for Christ's sake, has forgiven us.
A [Application]: The application to my life is pretty straightforward, but just because it's clear and obvious doesn't mean it's easy to do. I do okay not having corrupt speech as such, but I know that not everything I say is edifying; not everything ministers grace to my listeners. So these are goals to aim at.
In general, I can do fairly well not exhibiting bitterness, wrath, clamor, etc. in my dealings with others, but being consistently kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving is more of a challenge. What a motivation to keep before me -- remembering that God -- for the sake of what Christ did on my behalf -- has forgiven me.
P [Prayer]= "Lord, I do thank You for the clear instruction in Your Word that makes it plain how we should live our lives. I thank You for the ways in which You have helped me to grow and change, and for pointing out to me areas which still need much work.
"I know that I have a long way to go with my speech, Lord. I pray that You will help me to consistently -- not just some of the time -- work at being sure my speech builds others up and is a ministry of grace to them.
"I pray too that I can be consistently kind and tenderhearted toward others. Often I find that I can be forgiving, but kindness and tenderheartedness do not come as easily for me.
"Please forgive me for the times when I fail in these areas, and help me to consistently act and react as You'd have me to. This can't be done in my own strength, so I pray You well help Your strength to be made perfect in my weakness, every day. In Jesus' name, Amen."
I hope that some of you are enjoying these occasional recaps of what I've learned from the "Intentionally Focused" study. I know it may not be for everyone, but I hope that some are being blessed as they read. Are any of my readers doing this study on their own or with a group? I'd be interested in hearing about what you're doing!