25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”[d]: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
The pathway for change in our lives will follow this pattern, from the previous passage:
After we discover the true way of Christ to live best, we will put off the desires and pathways that are different, we will be renewed, our lives will change from the inside out (Holy Spirit help) and we will put on the new pathways and desires.
Life has always been this way, the Psalmist speaks to his soul:
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
This is the way that our lives will change and we will
- Live a life worthy of the grace of God in us.
- Attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
- Reflecting true righteousness and holiness.
Well, if we are going to reflect true righteousness and holiness, then we will be law keepers, not law breakers. At least with reference to God’s law!
Because God’s moral law is a reflection of His character
Because God’s moral law is a source of blessing and order that keeps the chaos of sin at bay in our lives and our world.
Jesus follows the same pattern as Paul here in the Sermon on the Mount! Having dealt with the proper attitudes, He tells us to be salt and light, then that He has not come to abolish the law! Then He dives into keeping the moral law of God and He extends that law to the inner man as the battle ground!
- Put Off Lying and Speak the Truth
- We are all one body
Do you like people to lie to you?
Do you want people to cheat you?
Hebrews 6:18 it is impossible for God to lie. God is the ultimate reality. Why would folks want to escape reality? Because it make them look bad.
- The truth is important
Light of the world. Light leads to life. Darkness leads to danger!
We lie to ourselves too. Denial, repression, false standards.
And that’s not good.
God is truth, Jesus is the truth, and God’s Word is truth.
- We are speaking the truth in love
Speaking the truth to one another is an aspect of love. Why do people lie? To gain an advantage? To hide evil behavior? To keep from confronting things that are painful. To keep other people from thinking badly of them.
Jesus treats this issue in Matthew 5 in this way:
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
So, Paul moves beyond the issue of being truthful and addresses anger.
- Manage Your Anger Properly
- Do not deny your anger
In order to not allow the sun to go down on our anger, we are gonna have to do some reflecting on the source of the anger. There are many reasons that people are angry and some self- awareness is helpful.
If you are angry, there is either a good reason for that or not. If there is a good reason, that should be explored. If there is not a good reason, there is repentance necessary.
What we are not to do is sit around and be angry and stew. Think about it, if you are angry and others do not agree with you, do you get even more angry? That’s a bad sign. And if you are angry, do others come into your sphere of influence and join and multiply your anger? That’s not good either.
- Do not feed off of your anger
Whether or not we have understanding as to the nature of the source of our anger, we are not to feed on it. It is a destructive power!
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
So much of the displays of anger that people have are related to the desire for power. This is rooted in insecurity and fear. Deal with the underlying issues and the anger can be diffused.
- Own your attitudes and emotions
Jesus again in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matt 5: 21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.
We have seen in our own community how anger leads to murder and destruction and chaos. It really matters. “I would never do this.” Well, the majority of murder in our culture is done by people close to the ones who are murdered.
Romans 12: 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
III. Be a Giver, Not a Taker!
- Steal no longer
Attitude toward others here is the issue. We must learn to be delighted in others doing well.
God loves, God gives. This is where we are headed.
It is more blessed to give than receive. Acts 20:35 But give people permission to bless you! Learn to be thankful and receive love.
- Be productive
Work with your hands instead of stealing with them. Build things and others up. This is the action of a servant of God. God is remarkably productive. The problem with this is a world that fights order with chaotic forces, fight back!!
What is your life to be about today? Beauty and utility.
At Stoby’s we installed a point of sale computer system in the early nineties I think it was. It was expensive, 36,000 if I remember right. In one year it paid for itself. The business was that much more profitable. That means that the employees were stealing almost $700.00 per week at retail prices from the business. We had about 60 employees, that’s only 12 dollars per week per employee. Or a couple meals per. Surely that’s no big deal right? Think again. Now, that’s not the only part of the story. Many of those employees who were stealing were also very productive. They were skillful, worked hard and helped to satisfy customers. So, they also brought business in. But the goal is to be both!!
- Be prepared to share with the needy
The goal of life for all of us is the best life for all of us.
I am not a socialist. But I do believe in social responsibility. But I also believe in individual freedom. And I think both are very important. God has given us His Word and left us free to not follow it. I think that freedom is important. And I think the corporate conversation is important.
There is a balance here. I don’t want you to have my wallet. And I want you to do well, so I will choose to help you on my own. If you don’t earn what you have you won’t treat that blessing with the appropriate respect.
Galatians 6: 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
5 for each one should carry their own load.
These three qualities mentioned today all relate to the law. The people of God will follow the law of God and this is part of what it means to live in a manner worthy of the gospel. So, when we see put off, we are putting off behavior that does not reflect God’s moral character. It is His law that leads us in this way. We do not keep the law in order to gain righteous standing with God. That ship has sailed because we did not meet the standard of righteousness. We are all shut up in sin so that God might have mercy on us all. This is all a good thing. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the law being bad. I am the bad one. I am the liar, I am the thief, I am the murderer.
And until I see my sinful potential, I am dangerous. But, I can put off death giving habits, be renewed by the Word and Spirit of God, and put on life giving habits instead. This is such good news!!