Devotional: Taking to heart the admonitions of Paul
Published 7:55 am Sunday, January 14, 2024
This is my first contribution to the Devotional column. Honestly, it is with a little bit of “fear and trembling” that I put myself out there in a public forum such as this! I know very well that I am still an imperfect man with weaknesses. I don’t always practice what I preach as well as I would like. But it is my hope and prayer that God will use me here to bring you closer to Him. To the degree that I am able in my future posts, it is my desire that you will find hope, encouragement, and challenge, to help you draw closer to Him and to live a life worthy of Him.
One of my passions as a pastor is for Christians to take our faith seriously and do our best to live in a way that honors and pleases the Lord. Today I want to draw our attention to our speech. Two passages have been weighing heavily on my heart in recent years as I’ve seen many in the body of Christ get swept into the stream of anger and hostility that is so prevalent in our culture today.
The first passage, written by Paul, in the context of Christians being equipped and growing in the faith, is Ephesians 4:14-15: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ”. The key phrase for my topic here is “speaking the truth in love”. The second passage is 1 Peter 3:15: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you yet do it with gentleness and respect,”. Don’t miss that last phrase. It is vitally important! “Do it with gentleness and respect”!!
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James wrote, “If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.” Wow! What a challenging statement!
Unlike us, Jesus never sinned. It is instructive to us that Jesus reserved His toughest rebukes, and strongest speech, to the religious leaders of His day. He didn’t rail against the Roman governing authorities, Rome’s military personnel, His average fellow Jews, or against the Gentiles or Samaritans, people groups between whom there was mutual hatred from and towards the Jews. Jesus is our example. While He never condoned sin, He also always spoke and treated people with love; with respect and dignity. May we all follow His example. May we all take to heart the admonitions of Paul, Peter, and James. And, Lord, forgive us and change us when we fall short.
DAVID EDMONSTON is the pastor of Trinity Church in Prospect. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.