Sunday Message for 8 August 2021: “Acceptance, not Anger”

Today’s message comes from Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus, Greece (Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2). Paul offered timeless wisdom about avoiding self-destructive attitudes and behaviors.

Paul encouraged his readers to avoid falsehoods, lies, etc. Paul believed that members of a faith family should treat one another in the most loving manner possible. This is key, since it sets a high standard for the behavior of persons in the church while also setting an example for outsiders. Just as you will benefit from getting along with your friends and biological family so also must you manage your emotions so you will honor your faith family.

Paul addressed negative emotions. He cautioned against the type of anger that negatively affects interpersonal relationships. Anger management is a key skill, one regrettably lacking in many peoples’ lives inside and outside the church. Better management of all your strong emotions will enhance every aspect of your life. Self-control and discipline are vital to your reputation and ultimately your spiritual health.

Unrestrained anger, malice, wrath, slander and all sorts of similar emotions can leave the unwary vulnerable to more mischief. Evil begets evil and darkness begets even more darkness. Therefore Paul implored his followers to “not make room for the devil,” suggesting that bad behavior promotes spiritual disarray.

Evil speech? Avoid it! Consider how anger, for example. is like trying to hold fire without getting burned. Even people outside the church realize that Paul’s opinions are as true today as they were almost two-thousand years ago. Indeed, even secular psychology has proven that there are ill-effects from unbridled negative emotions. The gist is that even Christians need reminding of how bad attitudes and behavior are harmful.

Paul didn’t just write about what people should not be doing. He was also positive, encouraging people of faith to do good. Paul asked that members of a faith family set aside all the bad stuff and replace it with love. It’s not good enough to refrain from anger, angry speech, and the rest of it. Paul reminded readers that they can be proactive and interject uplifting, positive words, those that will spread light and truth: “. . . be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Paul sums-up his lesson with a wonderful nugget of advice: “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us . . .” (Ephesians 5:1-2). Paul’s timeless insights continue to promote wellness in mind, body and spirit. Love your neighbor and by so doing you will strengthen yourself and your faith family.

–Reverend Larry Hoxey

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