Are you ever grieved by what you see around you?
Likely you are. There are so many things that bring so much pain and turmoil to our lives and the lives of those we love. It can be very disheartening. And at the same time, what brings grief to one seems to bring something completely different to others. It is interesting how the “ice bucket challenge” seems to be having a polarizing effect on different people. Clearly it would be hard to miss the numerous challenges that are being passed between friends and co-workers, but also there is a mounting number of others that are venting on how tired they are of seeing this and, even others, who are writing lengthy explanations as to why they can't participate. So some are grieved by this, and others by that, and still others may be grieved by both. I think I fall into the last category.
In any case, while we are all assured of a little grief in this life, we need not be dominated by it. The bible even says that Jesus was a man acquainted with grief and sorrow. If you have been given spiritual sight thru being born again (unless someone is born again, they cannot see the kingdom of God), you have a whole new set of possibles, both for grief, and for joy.
I was recently gathered with a few others at a friend's house for prayer, food and fellowship, and the main thing we looked at in the bible was Ephesians 4 and the first part of 5. There are many things there that have dominated my thinking since then. Here are a few?
We can (and will) come to a place of such unity in our faith and knowledge of God's Son that we will be mature, meeting the standard that Christ set for us, and no longer as immature children will we be tossed about and routinely tricked by the influences of the misguided and predatory.
Did God make provision for your stability? If so, why are so many who claim to be named by the name of Christ so unstable, wishy-washy, and driven about by their own lusts and/or deceptions, or by carefully crafted deception that others trap them in?
Don't bring sorrow to God's Holy Spirit by the way you live.
Is it possible to bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit? Seems like, from this verse, it is. Can I relate? Yes. I am sure that large seasons of my life brought sorrow to the Lord. This should be something we endeavor to understand so that we can prevent it. If your life brings sorrow to those on earth, that is one thing, but to be a source of sorrow and grief to the Eternal God, that is something else entirely, and should be avoided in every way.
Paul opens chapter 4 by begging! He is begging us to live a life worthy of our calling, as those who have been called by God. One way we bring grief and sorrow to the Holy Spirit is by living with no view to this calling or the responsibility it imposes.
With the Lord's authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused.
As you know, the word Gentiles used here is a synonymous term with our word “lost”. Don't live like lost people would be a culturally accurate way to say this. I would venture to say that the reason that the lost are hopelessly confused is because of the way they live. If we live like the lost, we will also be hopelessly confused. This whole chapter is a broad discussion of this topic. I hope my thoughts here encourage you to read it.
Notice that Paul invokes the highest level of authority here. He says he is saying this with the Lord's authority…. As I recall, Jesus said that all authority in heaven and in earth had been given to him. Let's don't rush past this admonition. It has a weight of seriousness to it.
This part of scripture focuses on our manner of life and it's practical implications to spiritual things. It gives us direct input not only as to what is to be avoided, but also what is to be embraced. Things like humility, gentleness, patience and love, and peace. Could it be understood, then, that these are the things – when evidenced in our lives – that cause us to bring pleasure to the Holy Spirit? I think so. Bear in mind, these things aren't possible without the help of the selfsame Holy Spirit. But we are not without His help, are we?
There is a good part of this chapter that talks about gifts God has given for our edification and maturity. We can look at this as if the people who have been given these gifts are responsible for our stability, but that is not altogether true. Never make the mistake of thinking that you don't have a responsibility in this. God has given gifts to help us become mature, but that doesn't alleviate you of also taking responsibility in the process. Maturity will elude you forever if you fail to take your measure of responsibility in becoming mature / stable.
Sometimes the premature declaration of victory is the largest impediment to complete victory! What do I mean? Don't consider yourself to be mature, but rather in the process of maturity. Until you are complete in Christlikeness, you are still in process, no matter your age or time served. ;0)
As each part does it's own special work, it helps the other parts grow so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Is this the effect that you are having on others?
It is very important that our pursuit of the Lord and the maturity that He cultivates in us not be delayed. We must press on to maturity without delay until we reach the place where we are useful to Him in the lives of others, because this is where we become a part of the answer instead of a part of the problem. As long as we linger in immaturity, we are a part of the problem, distracting and deceiving others with false hope and vision. This is all around you, and you may be unwittingly complicit at this very moment.