Resuming posting after a brief Thanksgiving week break. Today’s post begins with this passage from Ephesians:
25 Therefore, putting away falsehood, let every one speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
A couple of things caught my attention while reading this passage.
The first was this: “Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil.” It seems to me that St. Paul does give room for what we might call “Righteous Anger” to a Christian. However, he warns us not to sin, and gives two specifics: don’t let the sun go down, and don’t give room for the devil. The way I interpret this, he is saying that anger must be momentary, not a permanent condition for us. And that we must not let our anger be a source of temptation for Satan to exploit us.
The second part that got my attention was this: “ Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for edifying, as fits the occasion, that it may impart grace to those who hear.” Elsewhere St. Paul warns about obscene language and foul language. Here what I found interesting was the mention of edifying and fitting the occasion. It seems to me that he might be giving a little leeway for what we might call “working blue,” but only if it fits the occasion. That is, it is absolutely necessary to edify a brother.
Then we have this passage from First Peter:
13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is right? 14 But even if you do suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God’s will, than for doing wrong.
(1 Peter 3:13-17)
We Christians should always be hopeful. Always. It should be a constant mark of who and what we are. Just as pagans should know us for our love, they should know us for our hope. This is especially important in this day and age, because it seems to me that we are entering an age without hope. I sense very little hope in most people. They don’t know what they are really living for. Consequently they are attaching themselves to various pleasure and diversions to try and bring meaning to their lives. Or at least satisfaction. Of course, that never works out for them in the end.
Finally I want to end with two verses from the Book of Proverbs. The first:
Take a man’s garment when he has given surety for a stranger,
and hold him in pledge when he gives surety for foreigners.
Here translation makes a major difference. The RSV translates that last word as foreigners. But the literal translation is foreign woman. Which, if we consider what is being said before, actually helps everything make sense. The proverb is saying that if a man takes a loan and spends it on a foreign woman (aka, a harlot), then don’t give him back his surety afterwards. He deserves to lose his clothes for that.
And finally I leave with this verse, which I hope to talk about in a post tomorrow:
Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.