To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
January/February 2016 Issue – Alive, ‘… because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ’ Ephesians 2:4-5
The text set for today’s reading and meditation:
Ephesians 4:17-32 (NIVUK): “So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.
That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour, for we are all members of one body. ‘In your anger do not sin’: do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.
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.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
In this study, Selwyn talks about the need to learn how to manage our emotions.
He writes: “First, be willing to face them and feel them. Never attempt to block the awareness of an emotion. Second, consider how the emotion arose – problem emotions arise from the frustration we feel because a goal we have set for ourselves is not being reached. (Is it the right goal?)
Third, ensure that you express problem emotions in harmony with biblical principles. Don’t say, ‘I can’t help shouting when I’m angry.’ Remember that you can choose not to shout. Never forget that the mind and the will censor the emotions and they decide how those emotions are to be expressed.”
Today’s reading from Ephesians provides a lot of good advice. First off, we should no longer live as non-Christians do. We must try to be like Jesus by pursuing a life of righteousness and holiness. We are to get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. We should be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God forgave you.
Paul makes a special mention of controlling our anger and advises us to deal quickly with it because if we dwell on what has caused us to become angry for any length of time, we may provide a foothold for the devil, which could lead to sin.
Over the years I’ve made a conscious effort to deal with my anger before the ‘sun sets’, that is within a day of whatever has happened to cause the emotion of anger to rise up in me. I’ve found that with prayer, I’ve been able to successfully control my angry outbursts – they sometimes still happen – but I’ve found each case to be easier to control because I’ve consistently applied Paul’s advice.
I think that if we develop a habit of dealing with difficult emotions by following biblical principles then we grow in spiritual maturity and move closer to our goal of righteousness and holiness – that is, to be more like Jesus.