November 20, 2012 – Devotion Sharing (Ephesians 4)

Submitted by Matthew K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Ephesians 4:25–27 (ESV)

Ephesians 4:25

“For fellowship is built on trust, and trust is built on truth. So falsehood undermines fellowship, while truth strengthens it.” [John R.W. Stott, The Message of Ephesians, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL:  Inter-Varsity, 1979), p. 185.]

“’A lie is a stab into the very vitals of the Body of Christ.’ […] Lies distort reality and accompany every other form of wrongdoing. They are usually motivated by self-enhancement or self-defense and usually comes in bunches, for it is difficult to tell only one. The evil are people of the lie. […] ‘To obey the truth is to be free…We do not “have” the truth, truth owns us…’  Truth – that which corresponds to the facts and on which we can rely – is both necessary and freeing (cf. John 8:31-32).” [Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), p. 255.]

  • Why is “speak[ing] the truth” vital to maintain unity and fellowship as “members one of another?”

Speaking in truth is vital in maintaining unity and fellowship in any relationship.  In fact, in order for any relationship to be real and meaningful, it has to be based on truth.   We can’t imagine a marital relationship that is not based on truth and the trust that is built on truth.   Nor can we imagine a life group meeting or accountability group where the members come and lie about their week or disguise truth about themselves.  Without truth, there cannot be any growth in relationships.  I have personally been a part of many different small groups over the years and I find the degree to which the members are willing to be truthful is directly related to how closely they feel to each other and how much they experience unity among members.  I have always felt more close to those brothers to whom I was able to confess about my sins and those whom I had confronted about their issues.

  • What are some difficulties I’ve had in speaking the truth?  How trustworthy are my words? Is there some falsehood that I need to confess and set the record straight?

What gets in the way of not speaking the truth is my desire to save my face.  There is a mental exercise that I invariably go through before I work up the courage to speak the truth about my sins.  Would they understand? Would they forgive me if I were to confess this? What would they think of me after hearing what I did?  What would be the consequences of my confession?  Would they still like me or would it jeopardize my relationship with them?    There also is that hesitation to tell the whole truth, with all the details.  I want to withhold particularly damaging details so that I can somehow don’t look as bad.  However, time and time again, I come to experience the grace of God and much needed repentance and restoration process after I speak the truth about myself.   I often come to realize that as soon as I begin to confess something about myself, I have been taking myself much too seriously.  What is truth about myself is that I am a sinner and I really don’t have much face to save.  And invariably, I feel much closer to those whom I was able to share about my sins and struggles.

Ephesians 4:26-27

  • Assess how I handle anger based on this passage. 
  • How does anger “give…opportunity to the devil?”

Anger or hot temper runs in my family.  I have seen lives and families and being destroyed and broken apart because of uncontrolled anger firsthand. I have seen children living in fear and developing unhealthy relationship with adults and authority figures in their lives.  I have caused a lot of hurts in others because I was not able to control my anger or my annoyance.  An uncontrolled outburst of anger can potentially destroy many years of love and sacrifices a person have poured on others and the relationship that was built over the years.   I have seen uncontrolled anger causing misunderstandings that would take months and years to undo.

Anger and hot temper is in me as well.   In anger, I have said hurtful things in the past to the people whom I love.  It destroyed trust that I had to work hard to build.  Anger gives the devil the opportunity to create mistrust and delays the work of trust.

Unrighteous anger is ultimately a selfish act.  I give into anger when I value my emotions more than that of others.  I need to guard my life against giving into anger.

Submitted by Tony K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

  • Why is “speak[ing] the truth” vital to maintain unity and fellowship as “members one of another?”

In order for genuine fellowship to occur and for relational ties be strengthened, at the most fundamental level, there must be truth between the “members of one another.”  Falsehood and lies are like poison that cripple and debilitate the health of any organization, any group that seeks to maintain unity and closeness.  When truth is not upheld, when truth is not spoken, when there is a layer of fakeness and deceit, a hiding and covering up of truth, that only serves to create one of the greatest barriers to destroy unity, closeness, and genuine fellowship… mistrust.

  • What are some difficulties I’ve had in speaking the truth?  How trustworthy are my words? Is there some falsehood that I need to confess and set the record straight?

Some difficulties I’ve had in speaking the truth to others are as follows:  the difficulty of knowing that a relationship risk is involved, if the other person doesn’t take it well, if it’s communicated in a way that doesn’t reveal not only love, but seriousness, moral grounding, and God’s standards, etc.  It so much easier to turn a blind eye towards sin of others, and to not relationally rock the boat.  Especially in the past, I’ve experienced the great difficulty, if not more, to speak the truth about myself.  The difficulty of speaking truth comes from the desire to protect my “image,” to look good in front of others, and to refuse to confront myself and come to terms of what kind of cowardly and wretched sinner I am.  I’ve experienced, and still do, experience the difficulty of speaking truth because of pride and the desire to be right and to justify my hurtful actions.  (When that happens, my words are not trustworthy at all).  The falsehood that I need to confess and set straight before God is the falsehood of doing ministry and being involved in God’s work, for any other reason that does not center around the heart of God.  When I live my life doing so-called Christian things, yet my motives go unchecked and I’m not rightly relating everything back to God, then that is when I need to confess to God the false things and idols in my heart, and set the record straight before Him.

Ephesians 4:26-27

  • Assess how I handle anger based on this passage. 

It says to not let “the sun go down in my anger.”  To not allow anger to take its course so that others get hurt, so that the devil doesn’t have an opportunity to take a foothold and cause me to spew caustic words or thoughts upon others.  It’s to not allow anger to stew and brew, to not allow anger to remain in my heart.  I am someone who on the outside might appear cordial and congeal to others, but in actuality I am someone who gets too easily angered, especially when I feel hard-pressed for time, and there is some unexpected inconvenience.  Sadly to say, my wife often gets the brunt of my anger, and this is something that I need to regularly confess and repent about.  It humbles me knowing that as a result of being angry and controlled by anger, the devil can really use that to hurt others.  When this happens, I need to go back and repent to God, think about how my anger hurts others, see how I’m wrong and ask for forgiveness, and “not let the sun go down in my anger.”

  • How does anger “give…opportunity to the devil?”

Anger gives an opportunity to the devil, because so much sense and thoughtful attention of others goes out the window, as anger is so often fueled by pride and false expectations, things that the devil can really use to control someone and cause them to do hurtful things.  The devil wants to cause others to “leave a trail of victims” in their violent path, and when I am governed by selfish pride, my desire to justify my own hurtful actions, when I try to excuse myself by pointing to circumstances and surroundings, when I seek to blame others, when I am immature and unthoughtful, and when I simply do not see the truth about myself… that’s when the devil can really use anger as an opportunity for harm.

Personal Prayer

Lord God, please forgive me for being someone who gets angry out of pride and false expectations, and for “engaging in falsehood,” that can so often damage my relationship with others and cause disunity and fellowship.  Lord, the sad consequences of such vices are mistrust, a “trail of victims” especially those close to me, and offensiveness towards You.  Lord, please humble me, knowing that the devil can really use such things as an opportunity of harm towards others.  I pray that I would rather be someone who better sees, responds, and is aware of truth especially during such times, so that the devil would not have such a foothold in my heart.  Thank You for Your Word today, I pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.

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