The New Life in Christ
-by Tim Bias
It is interesting that Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus at all. It’s even more interesting that he wrote what we know as Ephesians 4:25-5:2. If he had to say it, does it mean that there were problems with the way people spoke to one another?
It was a diverse church. There were Jews who had a deep ethical background. They were people who lived with values – religious values. There were also Gentiles who had a different way of looking at the world. Their values were different from the Jews. I can image there were times when the two sets of values clashed and created tension within the church. So Paul is teaching about the new life in Christ. He was teaching what would become the values of the Christian faith.
Ephesians 4:25 reads, “…putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors.” In other words, “You don’t have to exaggerate your importance or project a more desirable image. You belong to one another. Your life and talk is dedicated to the truth rather than to yourself. So give up falsehood and speak the truth.”
Verse 26 he says, “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and do not make room for the devil.” Anger is not necessarily evil or sinful, but nursing a grudge or unforgiveness is. It poisons your life and the life of the church or community. It is in the unforgiveness that gives root to evil. So take care of it as soon as possible.
I think verse 28 is truly interesting. Paul says, “Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy.” Paul gives a warning against stealing. The assumption is that those who have the world’s goods will share with others.
Then we come to verse 29: “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you.”? (TEV)
Paul is encouraging the church to say kind, supportive, encouraging words. When you open your mouth, do not let evil talk come out of your mouth. Don’t diss one another. Say only what is useful for building up as there is need so that your words may give grace to those who hear.
The teaching is similar to Jesus’s teaching when he says, “it is not what goes in but what comes out that defiles…”
Paul is writing to encourage the use of words of goodness.