It is that time in the college semester when I have gone through the lesson on purity with the girls who I mentor. Honestly this can be the easiest conversation, or a very uncomfortable time. It is hard to share Biblical truth with others when you know it is going to convict or be contradictory to what they believe and how they live.
It may not be a discussion on purity, but we all have Biblical truths that we are given the responsibility to share with others. We are called to teach the Bible to the next generation and help them learn from our mistakes, as well as our obedience. In a world that likes everyone to have their “own truth,” how do we share effectively?
Today we are going to go through Ephesians 4 to help us as we learn how to share truth in love.
One of the most popular Bible verses is Ephesians 4:15. "Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Paul the apostle was encouraging the church in Ephesus to become mature believers. Ephesians 4 talks about not just staying stagnant in our faith and being infants, but growing in our relationship with Christ as well as our confidence in His commands. As we invest into younger people and share the hard truths that many – even in churches today – are too afraid to tell, we do so with the heart of compassion and grace.
Paul shares how the believers have gotten caught up in sinful thoughts, living like the world, and losing the sensitivity by ignoring the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:17-19). It would be wonderful if we could all learn lessons before having to walk through the consequences and struggles. However, in life we are sinners in need of a Savior. When we see a brother or a sister in the faith heading down a path that they do not need to follow, it is unloving to be silent. As hard as it is, it is more beneficial and kinder to warn them and point them to the narrow path of Christ (Matthew 7:13-14). We pray that these moments on the worldly path are just detours and not lifelong directions.
Paul goes on to share in Ephesians 4:20-24 "That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."
Paul says that the sinful ways the Ephesians were living was not the truth of what Christ taught to them. Christ followers are called to get rid of their former ways and put off our old selves. We are called to be made new in our minds and put on the righteousness and holiness of God. We have been transformed because of Jesus. This is what is frustrating and discouraging when we see fellow believers living lives that are contrary to the ways of God.
Paul then instructs the Ephesians to put off all kinds of sins (Ephesians 4:25-31). Do you think it was easy for him to write this letter of concern to them? I imagine he could have even had a stomachache over it, or his hand could have been shaking a little while writing the letter. However, Paul cared enough about this group of people that he told them what was difficult out of the love that Christ had for them.
I love how he ends his chapter with Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We see Paul conclude with the call to kindness and compassion. When we wrap up telling someone that God has something better for them, it is important that we ourselves remember to have kindness, mercy, and forgiveness.
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The Process Paul Used in Ephesians 4
1. Paul Starts His Message with Unity and Humility (Ephesians 4:1-13)
Before approaching someone with a challenging truth from the Bible, make sure that you pray ahead of time. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the words to say. Pray that your love for them will be communicated in the conversation. Plan to start out your discussion with the idea of unity like Paul and being humble in your approach. There is nothing worse than someone coming off as better than or having a prideful attitude, especially if it is an area he or she has been faithful in. Recognize that we all have struggles and that you want to share this truth because you believe God has better for them.
2. Go Bravely into Correction (Ephesians 4:14-31)
Take the leap of faith and be brave. When you share, talk to God silently. Ask Him to direct you as you converse and if you do not know what to say. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to become angry (James 1:19). Include the instruction and the blessings that come from living life in the ways of God. Make sure you present that it is not just a rule or command, but a gift and a blessing to follow the ways of the Lord.
When talking about sexual purity, I share that God created sex. I used the analogy that just like the person who created my car knows how to use it better than I do, the Lord knows the context in which sex was intended. Anything outside of His intended purpose is sin and results in pain and heartbreak. However, when we follow His design through the help of His Holy Spirit, we have His favor and blessing. Paul himself used the analogy of an infant on spiritual milk instead of maturing to solid food. Analogies are very helpful and can paint a clearer image of what we are trying to communicate.
3. Trust the Holy Spirit to Work in the Individual’s Heart (Ephesians 4:32)
After you wrap up and give a call to action, finish the conversation in a compassionate way; release this discussion to the work of the Holy Spirit. There is only so much that we can do. At the end of the day, that person makes choices on their own and we are not responsible for his or her decisions. However, we can pray for them and continue to model and encourage the way of Christ. It can feel burdensome if others do not change, however we need to be careful of the pride in thinking that we are responsible for changing others. May we humbly release these loved ones to God and trust that He is working in their lives, and we have done our part to tell them of His ways.
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Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com