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Truth telling "for building up the community"

November 4, 2022
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Daily Scripture

Ephesians 4:25-32

25 Therefore, after you have gotten rid of lying, Each of you must tell the truth to your neighbor [Zechariah 8:16] because we are parts of each other in the same body. 26 Be angry without sinning [Psalm 4:4]. Don’t let the sun set on your anger. 27 Don’t provide an opportunity for the devil. 28 Thieves should no longer steal. Instead, they should go to work, using their hands to do good so that they will have something to share with whoever is in need.

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.

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Daily Reflection & Prayer

We’ve seen, in personal and public life, what happens when people use words to tear down community and set people against one another. Ephesians 4 made it clear that we cannot possibly think God enjoys such words and thoughts. As both this election campaign and the focused part of our BE campaign move toward their end, fix firmly in your mind and heart a resolve to “only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community,” not just politically but in all ways.

  • Pastor Hamilton used an ironic but truthful chapter title to name a sad fact we all know happens: “When Christians are Unchristian.” * Ephesians 4:32 said our ideal is to treat one another “in the same way God forgave you in Christ.” Have you learned ways to “be angry without sinning” (verse 26)? What steps can help you grow a character strong enough to treat others as God treats you?
  • Scholar William Barclay wrote, “Paul…tells us to be kind (chrēstos). The Greeks defined this quality as the disposition of mind which thinks as much of its neighbors affairs as it does of its own. He tells us to forgive others as God forgave us. In one sentence, Paul lays down the law of personal relationships—that we should treat others as Jesus Christ has treated us.” ** In which areas are you closest to living out that standard? In which do you see the most room for growth?
Prayer

King Jesus, give me the courage to speak truth in love, the humility to say I’m sorry when I’m wrong and the heart to forgive others who admit a wrong. Amen.

GPS Insights

 Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is the Entry Points Program Director at Resurrection, a self-proclaimed foodie, a bookworm, and is always planning her next trip. She has the sweetest (and sassiest) daughter, Carolina Rae, a rockstar husband, Austin, and a cutie pup named Thunder. She loves connecting with others so let her know the best place you've ever eaten, best book you've ever read, or best place you've ever been!

As you all know, I am a recovering perfectionist. Some days I’m not even recovering all that well. One of the things I really struggled with as a perfectionist was not only expecting perfection in myself, but expecting perfection in others. I had a really hard time understanding why not everyone worked the way I did or why everyone didn’t perform the way I did.

Would you like to know the person who got the brunt of my perfectionism? My husband. He was NEVER listening! He would forget something I said, and do you know what I would reply? “I told you that already, I don’t want to say it twice” or “Didn’t I already answer that?” YES! Like, who am I? Or if he didn’t call the plumber the day after we talked about it, I’d text him and say, “Since you haven’t called, I’ll just go ahead and do it.” And the worst, I started putting sticky notes on things that I wanted him to do so that he couldn’t forget, or so that I could remind him even when I wasn’t there.

How do you think that made him feel? Probably not uplifted or encouraged or loved. It’s truly miraculous that he still loves me.

It’s taken a lot of work in my heart by a very good and gracious God to help me stop seeing the world as something to be conquered or fixed, or people as something to “handle,” or myself as something to be perfected, and instead start seeing the world as something to be brightened, people as people to love, and myself as a tool and conduit for God’s light and love to flow through. It took me a while to remember that my task isn’t perfection, but to make the world look more like God’s kingdom.

Another person who helped: Jon Acuff. If you know Jon Acuff, you may be laughing a little because he has been known as the guy who brought a turtle on stage at a conference and it peed all over his hand–on stage, in the middle of a keynote. Look it up. He is also the guy who recently wrote the book Soundtracks. This book talks about the soundtracks we play in our heads about ourselves and the world. A lot of us play really negative soundtracks, like “I’m terrible at this,” “I’m not a leader,” “I’m never going to look like her,” “I’m never going to achieve as much as him,” “That person is wrong.” Sound familiar? These soundtracks come from our various experiences as children and/or our experiences in a broken world. But we can reclaim and reframe these soundtracks to be better, and the potential is endless.

The first step is to consider the soundtracks we have in our heads, or even the ones we find ourselves saying out loud. And when we uncover one, we should ask ourselves three questions: Is it true? It is helpful? Is it kind?

It might be true that I can’t do something yet, but is it helpful to hate on myself? It is kind to demean or tear someone else down? We will never, ever hate ourselves or each other into change. We can only love ourselves and each other to greatness.

I’ve changed my soundtracks lately and it was hard work. But I came up with some new ones I wanted to fill my head and my heart with and I wrote them on my mirror so that I could say them every morning when I wake up and every night before I go to bed. These are mine:

What are the soundtracks you want to play in your head about yourself? About your neighbors? About our world? We can’t ever get out of our heads, so let’s make them a pretty, gentle, and encouraging place to be. Then what flows out will also be far more true, helpful, and kind.

Sending you joy today,
Lauren

P.S. If you need more ideas about soundtracks, here a few I’ve also seen that I’m pretty sure apply to you:
– I am strong
– I am resilient
– I am loved
– I am worthy
– I am known and valued
– Those I encounter are loved, worthy, known and valued
– Today, I will make the world brighter!

© 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.
References

* Adam Hamilton, When Christians Get It Wrong. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010 and 2013, chapter 1.

** William Barclay, Daily Study Bible Series: The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians (Revised Edition). Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 160.