This week as we continue in Ephesians, we will talk about growth. Ephesians 4:15 and 16 both reference growth. Are you growing? How do you know? Here are six ways to know that you are growing spiritually.
Ephesians 4:12 and 13 mention phrases such as, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry,” “for the edifying of the body of Christ,” and “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Salvation is not the end; it is the frontend. We are called to make disciples who make disciples. Verse 14 begins, “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro.” Children are marked by inconsistency, instability, unreliability. Trends are temporal. Truth is timeless. Are you unstable in your faith, emotions, understanding, commitment? Are you showing signs of maturity or childish behavior?
Verse 17 goes on to say, “you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind.” You are going to live the way you think. Jesus said, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” Verses 22-23 remind us that just like we would take off a garment, there are some things in our minds that we need to put off, and there are other things we need to put on. There are some things we need to stop doing, and other things we need to start doing. Renew your mind spiritually.
Paul tells the Ephesians to “‘be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil” (v. 26-27). We give place to the devil when there is disunity (v. 1-13), immaturity (v. 12-16), and impurity (v. 17-32). Where there is anger, lying, stealing, bitterness, and unforgiveness, there is a place for the devil. When you get moody or in a funk, that is the enemy and you need to reject it in Jesus’ name. Don’t give the devil ground in your life. Don’t allow anger to go unchecked.
“Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need” (v. 28). Any form of stealing is unacceptable for the believer. Work is a gift and a blessing. Make sure your money is earned honestly, legally, and ethically. Our motivation for getting should be giving. You don’t have to be rich to be generous. Grow in your giving until generosity becomes your lifestyle.
Verse 25 tells us to put away lying and to speak the truth. Verse 29 says, “let no corrupt work proceed out of your mouth.” Immediately after that, verse 30 says, “and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God….” Your words either heal or hurt. Before speaking, ask yourself these questions: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? Sins of the tongue are sins against the Spirit living in the speaker and the Spirit living in the listener. With our words, we sin against the Spirit who lives in us, against the Son who died for us, and against the Father who forgave us. Do you say things that are unacceptable, unkind or unimportant?
Verse 32 reminds us that Jesus is the ultimate example for us. If you keep your eyes on people, they will disappoint you and let you down. When Jesus hung on the cross, He did not focus on Judas who betrayed Him or on Peter who denied Him. He forgave them and focused on John and the work to do. Be kind to people even when they are unkind to you, tenderhearted even when they hurt you, forgiving even when they don’t deserve it. Keep your chin up and your knees down! The devil wants to use our problems to tear us down. God wants to use them to build us up. He uses everything for our growth and His glory!