True faith in Christ and a changed heart will first be exhibited in the home through the relationships with the people who know us best. As a father of three, Ephesians 6:4 speaks loudest to me, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in training and instruction of the Lord. As parents we sometimes turn into mini dictators trying to control every aspect of our children’s lives. But here Paul tells us to raise our children through Christ’s instructions. What is good for our lives is also good for our kids. If they do not live through the instruction of the perfect teacher, then we are a poor alternative.
There is a lot going on in Ephesians 5:22-33. Much of it is difficult to discuss without getting into a discussion about today’s cultural norms regarding marriage. However, the most important part of this passage is to understand what Paul’s ultimate point is about marriage and how we are to treat all believers, not just the ones we are closest to. In Ephesians 5:29 Paul sums up his point very clearly, After all, no one ever hates his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church. When it comes to other believers, especially those we love the most, we are to care for them as though they are part of our own bodies because in God’s eyes, they are.
Christ calls us to love one another. Paul even went as far as to say to “submit” to one another in Ephesians 5:21, Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submitting does not mean being a doormat. It means to subordinate so we can receive the promises of Christ. If we are willing to follow Christ and work in accordance to His plan, we are more willing to obey His commands and live according to God’s perfect plan for our lives and for the big picture.
Before we accepted salvation from Christ, we were living in darkness, but through Christ were were exposed to the light and were able to see truth and grace given to us through Christ. In Ephesians 5:8 Paul says, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Because of our salvation, we must live as people who can see truth and know hope through the love and promises of Christ through eternity.
God does not tell us to avoid contact with unbelievers; quite the contrary. We are called by Christ to love others as He loved us and to lead them to Him. However, we are to be an influence in this world and we are to guard ourselves from being influenced by it. In Ephesians 5:6 Paul says, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. We must always remember that the promises of this world are fleeting and hold temporary satisfaction and fulfillment. It is through our love and obedience of God that we are able to make an eternal impact on those around us.
So many of us (myself especially) are too quick to give our opinions without completely thinking about the impact our words have on others. Paul warns us in Ephesians 4:29, 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. If our words do not impact others in a positive way, we should rethink what we have to say. While there is a time to correct and instruct, we should still take great care in what we say and how we say it.
We are supposed to live in communion with one another, but there are times it feels like there is more separation than anything else. This is not just believer/non-believer relationships, it exists within the body of Christ’s church as well. In Ephesians 4:25 Paul reminds the Ephesian church to get past the areas of false teaching and disagreement and remember we are all part of the same community. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Nothing bothers me more than Christian believers arguing with one another. We need to stop majoring on the minors and find where God truly wants us to focus our attention and efforts for His kingdom.
The knowledge of Christ and a relationship with Him are two separate things. In Ephesians 4:21 Paul reminds the Ephesians of this, Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. As believers who have a relationship with Christ, and who study His word, we are taught the truth of who Christ is and how we are to be a reflection of Him. We have no excuses when we believe in these truths. If we fail, it is because of a conscious decision to rebel against what we know is true.
We all have our good days and our bad. We all sin and make mistakes. The body of Christ is there to support us in our times of need, just as we are there to support the body of Christ when others need us. We do this because we have a common love created and supported by the love Christ has for us. In Ephesians 7:16 Paul says, From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. As individuals we have our weaknesses, but as a body of believers we are strong and have very few gaps in our faith. If we were all a little more open to understanding how we can work together as a body of Christ, we would all be stronger in our faith and stronger in influence and deed.
The unity we experience as believers should be prevalent and obvious to those around us. Ephesians 4:4-6 Paul says, 4 There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called – 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. In reality, many times we experience anything but unity. We focus on majoring in the minors and fail to look at the big picture. If we cannot see the “big picture” message of Christ, which is to love God and love others, then we fail our mission from Him. We need to focus on the things that bind us and not on the things that divide.