Sunday, September 1, 2019

11th Sunday After Trinity

Sermon Series: “Live a Life Worthy of a Child of God”

Sermon Theme: “Learn to Love Like Your Father”

Trinity 11 Ephesians 4:17 - 5:2 9/1/19

We continue our series on Living a Life Worthy of a Child of God based on the last chapters of Ephesians.  Today we return to Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2.  This is the second part of the text we began last week. 

“25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Dear Fellow Redeemed, 

Adopting a child is a great act of love.  You take a child who has been abandoned, either intentionally or by some accident that took its parents and you give them a home and love them and make them part of your family.  

Adopting an older child is an even greater act of love. For an older child brings all the baggage of their previous life with them.  That often includes abuse, neglect, and all the mental and emotional wounds that come from growing up without love.  I have known several people who have adopted older children, and it was an extreme test of their love.  Their children had a lot of emotional and mental scars that showed itself in verbal outbreaks and sometimes even violent behavior.  

Why do these parents put up with such abuse?  Because they committed themselves to being a parent to that child and loving and caring for them. They are determined to do whatever it takes to help them and teach them what it means to be a part of a family that loves them and teach them how to love in return.  That can be a long, slow and difficult process that causes a lot of pain and turmoil but that is what love does, it endures pain and suffering from the one you love and doesn’t give up on them no matter how tough it gets. 

That is a vivid illustration of the love God has given us.  Paul says, “Be Imitators of God, as beloved children.”  That is what you are, dearly loved Children.  God has adopted you as His own.  He has committed Himself to you.  

The adoption process in this world is very expensive.  They say the average adoption costs around $30,000.  But that is nothing compared to the cost that God paid to adopt you as His child.  Paul mentions the cost briefly in our text: “Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”  It cost the Father His own, dearly loved Son.  It cost Jesus, His own Life.  God willingly made that great sacrifice and paid that huge price in order to adopt you as His child. That’s love.  

But the love didn’t stop there, ever since God has brought you to faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you have been His dearly loved child.  We too, bring baggage from our past with us.  We come with our sinful human nature that causes us to abuse our Father in heaven and our Brother, Jesus Christ.  We act out in rebellion and cause a great deal of pain and suffering to God and to our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith.  But God has committed Himself to love us.  He has an unconditional love that endures our abuse and forgives our sins.  

Now God is very patiently trying to teach us what it means to be His Child and part of His family.  He is trying to teach us what it means to be loved by God and He is very patiently trying to teach us how to love in return.  Because of our sinful nature which we bring with us, we don’t even know what it means to love. Our Old Man always thinks of love in terms of loving yourself.  God is teaching us to love like Him which means to put others first.  He gives us some specific examples of what it means to love like God loves.  So let us pay attention and 

Learn to Love Like Our Father!

Remember last week we examined the previous verses where Paul told us to “put off your old self, … and to put on the new self.”  Now he describes five areas of our life where we are to put off the works of our Old Man and put on the New Man which was created like God and so it does love like our Father.  We can group these five into two groups dealing with, How we should speak, and How we should think and act.  Today we will think about the first group.

We Love Like Our Father by Learning to Speak like our Father.

Look again at verse 25 says, “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  Speaking falsehood or lying is an act of loving yourself.  It is not loving like our Father loves.  Why do people lie?  Isn’t it either to protect ourselves from getting into trouble or somehow making ourselves look better?  Little children have a natural inclination to lie to protect themselves.  They don’t have to learn it.  Ask a little child, “Did you take your sisters gum?” They shake their head, “No” even though their mouth is stuffed so full of gum they can hardly chew it.  

As we grow older we just get better at making our lies more convincing.  That is why parents need to discipline their children when they lie so that they learn to put away lying and all falsehood.  They need to learn that is wrong and they should always tell the truth.  Our old self learns to lie from its father the devil who is the father of lies.  So putting off the old man is to put off all falsehood and lying. 

Look to our heavenly Father who has adopted us, He always speaks the truth.  His word is truth.   So if we are going to imitate our Father, we always need to “speak the truth with [our] neighbor, for we are members one of another.”  We are members of the body of Christ.  

Lying and telling falsehood is not loving God, it is a sin against God.  And it is not loving our neighbor, because lies and falsehood harms our neighbor.  It is deceiving them.  We are members of one another, we don’t want to hurt the members of the body of Christ any more than we want to hurt ourselves.  Think of your fellow believers as being a part of yourself and treat them that way.  

Always speaking the truth does not necessarily mean saying everything you know, or everything that is on your mind.  Some things are better left unsaid.  Speaking hurtful words is never OK even if it is true.  So Paul adds another word about how we speak.  Look at verse 29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths.”  

By describing it as “corrupting talk” Paul indicates that not only are the words themselves corrupt, but they have a way of corrupting or harming others as well.  The word that describes the talk as “corrupting” is used to refer to rotten fruit and other foods.  We should not use any words that cause anyone to be spoiled.  

There are many ways that our words can have a corrupting effect on others.  Using foul language has a corrupting effect.  Some Christians seem to think that when they are around others in the work place that they need to talk like them.  Then they try to clean up their language when they are at church or with other Christians.  Paul literally says, “Don’t let any corrupt WORD come out of your mouth.”  Not even one – ever!  Foul, corrupt language, dirty jokes, and profanity should be as repulsive to us as rotten fruit or rotten meat.  

But it is not just foul language and vulgarity that God turns us away from.  Notice how Paul goes on, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  We are only to say things that build others up, only what edifies.  May we never say anything that tears others down.  

This is especially true when speaking to children.  It is so easy to tear them down and crush their spirit with careless, unkind words.  “How can you be so stupid?”  “What’s the matter with you?”  But our words can do other damage, even to adults.  Our words can ruin a person’s reputation and make others think badly of them.  If our words are finding fault and pointing the finger at others that becomes a very negative kind of speech that can have one of two negative outcomes.  Either it drags people down to feel like everything is bad and gives them a very sour attitude toward life, or it can lead to a self-righteous, better than others attitude.  Neither of those are fitting for a child of God and certainly are not loving like our Father.  Our words can cause anger and resentment in others and therefore cause them to sin in their heart.  Our words can ruin relationships.  There is no end to the harm that we can do with our tongues.  That is why James says, “The tongue is a little member and boasts great things.  See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3:4-6  When you think of all the ways that we can do damage with our speech may we pray with king David in Psalm 141:3 “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”  

Such corrupt and corrupting words also grieves the Holy Spirit.  That’s why Paul adds, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”  When we say things that tear down others or lead them to sin, that undermines the work of the Spirit who is working to seal us in the faith until the day of Christ’s return.  We certainly don’t want to disrupt that work and grieve the Spirit.  

So lets learn to Love like our Father and speak the way our Father speaks, always speaking the truth in love, and always building up one another.  Think before you speak so that your speech is always edifying, helpful, constructive, encouraging, and uplifting. That of course includes correcting and admonishing, but that too should always be done in love and gentleness.  

As Paul says, we should choose words that “fit the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  Solomon says in Prov. 25:11-12, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”

Our Heavenly Father has one desire for all people - that they may be saved.  That is what His love seeks.  Everything He says, whether it is convicting of sin or assuring of forgiveness is done with that goal in mind of giving salvation.  So if we are seeking to be imitators of God, shouldn’t our love and our speaking always be focused on the salvation of everyone we meet?   That is not to say that we should only talk about God’s word and never talk about anything else.  No, of course we talk about a wide variety of subjects.  But may we never say anything that would turn anyone off to God or His word or put any sinful thought in their mind. Instead let everything be intended to build up and may we always be thinking about how we can win someones confidence and so that we may proclaim God’s grace to them.  Like your Father, may you have a love for all people that desires their salvation and speak in ways that will help reach that goal.  

Everything we have received from God has come from His grace.  Therefore it is only fitting that we who seek to be imitators of God as dearly loved children, ought to speak words that, “Give grace to those who hear.”

Isaiah prophesied about Jesus, “The Lord God has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary.” Is. 50:4  May we seek God’s grace and forgiveness for every corrupting word that we have spoken, and may we be filled with God’s love and learn to love like our Father by learning to speak like our Father, with words that fill one another with grace.  Amen. 

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