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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Living a Holy Lifestyle: Ephesians 4 & 5

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ, God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people."- Ephesians 4:32-5:3

Living a holy lifestyle, a markedly different lifestyle, isn’t something we do to get to heaven or to be saved. We can’t do what Christ already did. No, we’re to live this lifestyle to shine the light of truth on those around us, because we are children of God. 

Kids imitate- it’s what they do. My little niece is the image of her mom- same eyes, same curls, and the same mannerisms. She tells her sister what’s what with the exact tone of voice and one raised eyebrow as her mother does. We are to do the same thing- imitate our heavenly Father. Our lives should show that we belong to Him, lives of sacrificial love, forgiveness, and compassion. And others should see that in us.

I know, I know, we often hear that we shouldn’t care what other people think of us, and most of the time, that’s very good advice. But our lives shouldn’t be a stumbling block for those living in darkness. And so, there shouldn’t be even so much of a hint of impurity or greed in our relationships. Not even a hint.

What does that look like, exactly? Well, as far as sexual immorality goes, making sure not a hint enters into your relationships will look different for different people (and if you’re married, you'll need to talk with your spouse about this).

I know of some women who have made the decision not to drive in vehicles alone with another man, some who have committed themselves to modest ways of dress, some who never alone with a man who is not their husband. Zeke and I do not talk on the phone with members of the opposite sex unless the other is included in the conversation (with the exception, of course, of work-related calls and family members). 

I do think that it’s easy to look at the first part of this verse, begin making “rules” for ourselves in this area and just stop there. Sexual immorality, and preventing even a hint of it, is something that’s been a well-discussed and well-legalized issue- think measuring hemlines, tops with high enough necklines, women only meeting with the pastor's wife rather than the pastor. It’s popular to talk about.

And frankly, it’s easy to discuss sexual purity and what we should do or not do because Christianity (and we’re not alone- other religions, as well!) has focused on it. But let’s not forget the rest of this passage.

Greed- can you see a hint of greed in your own life? I know I do. Are you stingy towards the church, towards other believers? 

Maybe it’s technically considered gluttony, but I think greed also applies- I have trouble when I don’t get my last bite. It doesn’t matter what it is, cookie or sub sandwich, but if I’m eating something and don’t have the last bite, I actually get crabby! And why? Because I’m a selfish, sinful person. In the case of money, how often do we hold on to that “last bite?” Sure we give and donate and support, but that last little bit is just for me- for my own sense of security, for my plans or future, or for a new pair of shoes. And if we’re asked to sacrifice that little bit, we actually feel… cheated! Crabby! 

Paul says that sexual immorality and greed are improper for God’s people. These things just don’t fit into a life saved by grace. 

“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.”-Ephesians 5:4

Other behaviors that don’t fit in a Christian lifestyle? Look no further than my big mouth.
I like to talk, and sometimes my words are less than grace-filled. Less than pure. And oh, so often foolish. 

I joke about my husband. And truly, often times those jokes are really just thinly-veiled husband-bashing wrapped in some humorous facial expressions. Don’t get me wrong- my husband has quirks and silly sayings- he’s funny in a delightful way. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the “men are so dumb” jokes. I make a lot of those. And why? Why would I choose to diminish my husband in the eyes of others?  For a few laughs, or some false approval from an acquaintance? 

Instead, I should have a tongue quick with thanksgiving. I’m certainly very grateful for such an amazing husband, but do I say it? To other people?

Somehow that feels a little uncomfortable, a little like bragging- but don’t let it! You’re not bragging if you say, “I’m so blessed to have him- he’s so helpful around the house.” That’s not pride. That’s thanksgiving. And what’s wrong with my conversations that bashing my husband is somehow more comfortable than giving thanks for him? 


Why is all this stuff a big deal, anyway? It seems pretty… well, small. Pretty obvious. We know we’re not to be immoral or greedy or let our words get away from us. Why does it matter? 

Well, because these things show where our hearts are. Paul says that these sins make us idolaters. Sexual immorality is valuing the physical- the body, our own pleasure- over God. Greed is valuing money and things above God. Really, sin stems, for the most part, from two places- wanting to be God, and valuing something more than Him.

These things may seem small and insignificant, but the way we behave is important- first because we’re God’s children and should imitate His love and character, and also because our behavior proves our own values. And, as we’ll discuss later, living noticeably differently from the world helps to lead others to the Lord.


  1. I really needed that last part particularly today. It's so easy to feel like joking about husbands' failures is the only way to talk about them. But I'd feel awful if he did the same about me. Thank you for a thought provoking post!

    1. So true- my husband is very careful about what he says... and he knows I don't have a very thick skin, and wouldn't want to hurt my feelings. But me? Am I so considerate? Not so much!

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah!

  2. Great post! And once again I will praise The Lord for the gift of his Spirit for I have no hope of living even a bit "correctly" without His aid.

    1. Oh, Amen, Amen! And for the grace and mercy He gives- because man, I really really need it!


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