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.
I love this passage. Seven key instructions based on the body metaphor Paul outlines in 4:16. Things we put off and put on as we seek unity with others and maturity collectively as the body of Christ.
- Honest and open communication (Vs 25)
As brothers and sisters serving together as members of one body we are called to put aside pretense, false talk and actions and to be truthful, honest and open with each other. Clear honest communication is the basis of all healthy relationships.
- Assertive and responsible management of emotions (Vs 26-27)
Today we would call this emotional intelligence, understanding what is happening within us responsibly managing it. This means neither allowing anger to drive us to an outburst, or repressing it into resentment, but responsibly owning it ourselves and communicating it to others carefully.
- Industry and generosity (Vs 28)
We live in a time where people often have a sense of entitlement. Paul insists people need to work not only for their own good but so that they may be able to be generous and caring toward others.
- Encouragement (Vs 29)
There is a need for intentionality around our speech. We are not be careless with words, but to think about the needs of others and to build them up intentionally. Paul indicates this has a flow on effect, people who listen to these interactions benefit as well.
- Heart responsiveness (Vs 30)
We are invited here to be open and responsive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to act, to speak, to pray and to respond the way God seeks to guide us. We are not to resist the prompting of the spirit but to be active in responding.
- Active dismissal of evil (Vs 31)
We have already be alerted in Vs 26-27 to the ease of which bitterness and malice take root. We are instructed here not to nurse evil or let it settle within us but to actively get rid of it. Gracious kindness to and forgiveness of others (Vs 32)
- We replace self centred evil with allowing God’s grace to flow through us in kindness, compassion and forgiveness. The word for forgiveness here is related to grace.
So we end up with 7 movements that allow us to work effectively together:
From pretence to open communication
From lack of emotional management to responsible disclosure
From a sense of entitlement to industry and generosity
From careless criticism to intentional encourgament
From inner resistance to spiritual responsiveness
From holding on to actively displacing evil
From self-centred to a grace-centred relationship with others