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Qualities that build enduring love

January 30, 2024

Daily Scripture

Ephesians 4:29-5:4

29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.
5:1 Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. 2 Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
3 Sexual immorality, and any kind of impurity or greed, shouldn’t even be mentioned among you, which is right for holy persons. 4 Obscene language, silly talk, or vulgar jokes aren’t acceptable for believers. Instead, there should be thanksgiving.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

This passage listed key qualities that destroy relationships, and others that heal them. Treating one another in un-Christlike ways (“bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil”) damages and often destroys relationships. Letting Christ change your life from the inside out opens you to growing qualities like compassion, kindness, and a forgiving heart. God works through these qualities to strengthen (and heal when needed) our relationships.

  • The earliest archetypal Hebrew story about what went wrong in our world (Genesis 3:8-19) said that as soon as humans failed to follow God’s ways, they denied responsibility and blamed their partner (and others). Ephesians urged its readers to let God grow them into better partners before looking at others. Choose one area from today’s reading to grow in (e.g. put aside anger, be more loving, forgiving, gentle or pure). Commit to daily ask God to guide your growth in that area.
  • Today’s reading didn’t say, “Behave nicely to others—no matter how much you despise them inside.” It did say, “Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy.” “The Spirit is unhappy when believers speak destructive words about others and when people divide against one another.” * God offered to change us inwardly, in ways our outer behavior then reflects. How can you let the Holy Spirit shape you into a person who can more fully be “kind, compassionate, and forgiving”?

Lord Jesus, help me not to hide from or rationalize anger or bitterness you make me aware of inside myself. Do your transforming work in me, shaping me into a good relationship partner. Amen.

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Blake Thomas

Blake Thomas

Blake Thomas serves as a Connection & Care
Pastor at Resurrection Leawood. He joined the Resurrection staff in July 2020, serving as Director of Student Ministries at Resurrection West before changing to the pastoral care team in 2023. Blake earned a double B.A. in Youth Ministry and Bible & Theology from North Park University, and a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He was commissioned as a Provisional Elder of the Great Plains Annual Conference in June 2022 and has served in a variety of ministry settings. Blake is married to Gwyn, who serves as the Donor Development Specialist at Resurrection, and they recently welcomed their first child, Della. Blake enjoys backpacking, reading, and connecting with people over a cup of coffee.

While living in Chicago I did not have a car and relied on public transportation to get around. One Saturday afternoon a friend and I were waiting for a bus to pick us up. Numerous apps on your phone can tell you how many minutes it will be until the next bus arrives. I kept refreshing my app and it was clear the buses were running behind. I began to get frustrated because my friend and I were running behind… and I had a date planned that evening (spoiler alert: I would later marry this girl).

We were standing at the bus stop, chatting, refreshing the app, when all of a sudden we heard a loud “POP.” We looked behind us and saw a car had driven too close to the curb and shredded the tire. I turned to my friend and said, “That’s unfortunate,” and went back to refreshing the app eager to have the bus arrive. My friend turned to me and said, “Blake, we should go and help that person.” I responded, “We could…” with a hesitant tone hoping that the idea would be dropped. He then said to me, “Blake, it is our Christian duty to help this person.” I realized I did not have a good response to that and said, “Okay, let’s go help this person.” At that moment, I saw the bus approaching and realized I was going to be very late for my date.

I walked up to the side of the car and saw a woman crying in the front seat. I tapped on the glass, and she rolled the window down. I said, “I saw what happened to your tire and it will need to be changed. Would you like us to help with that?” She said, “Yes!” It turned out that she had two daughters who were fighting in the back seat while she was driving. The mom turned around to ask them to stop and, in the process, pulled her car too close to the curb. My friend and I changed her tire, the woman thanked us, and the two of us went back to the bus stop waiting for the next bus to arrive.

Our Scripture today says, “imitate God.” I think this is one of the hardest things for followers of Jesus to accept. It is easy to know how to share the love of Jesus, but it is another thing to imitate that love. Additionally, we are called to not let our destructive thoughts, agendas, and attitudes determine our actions. I believe that if my friend had not kept telling me to help this woman with the flat tire, I would not have helped her that day. It was through his persistence and desire to be the hands and feet of Jesus, that an authentic act of love was able to be displayed. He was looking to build up the community around him and listen to the movement of the Holy Spirit.

Since this encounter, it has helped me think twice in other moments when I have found myself in a similar situation. How can you spread words of kindness and demonstrate positive actions to imitate Jesus? I encourage you this week to look for moments where you can do this. This might be at the gas station. This might be on a Zoom call. This might be while you are waiting for a bus. There are always opportunities to share love with those around us. It is up to us to say “yes” to the Holy Spirit (and our friends) when those moments arise.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Timothy G. Gombis, study note on Ephesians 4:30 in The CEB Study Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2013, p. 369 NT.