Don’t believe everything you hear

Ephesians 5:6-7 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them

People will say anything if it means making a sale in today’s economy. There are literally thousands of claims made everyday for products that will not hold up to them. The worst part is, the people trying to get you to buy them know very well they won’t deliver and they don’t care as long as you buy.

That sounds so shady, doesn’t it? We imagine that only the most sinister of characters would ever do such a thing to another person, but in reality many deceive themselves before deceiving others. When you’ve talked yourself into thinking that it’s justifiable to scam someone else then it seems to be no big deal.

Then there are people in our lives who talk us into the little things, those little compromises here and there that seem like they aren’t sins because we’ve defined them as something other than acts against God. This passage from Ephesians says that to believe someone’s lies is to become partners with them.

Now look back at verse 5 and recognize that Paul was still talking about sexual immorality here in verses 6 and 7. The world lies to us about what is acceptable sexually and believing that sin is ok is to become partners with the sexually immoral. They use empty words and so often we believe them. “This particular act isn’t actually sex,” “God never said this was wrong,” “It depends on what your definition of “is” is.”

Let’s stop believing the lies by fine-tuning our ability to recognize the truth. We do that through learning God’s voice through His Word. To know Him is to recognize an impostor with ease.

Don’t make an idol of sex

Ephesians 5:5 For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

It seems impossible today to escape from the constant deluge of sexual content streaming into our homes, our workplaces, even our schools. Everyone is exposed to sexually immoral media everyday and it’s sold as a completely natural thing to embrace.

God has a different idea about sex, however. He calls certain things good and other things wrong and immoral. It’s not always about what’s good and what’s bad though. Even a good thing can be a bad thing when it takes the place of God. When we think about sex too much, talk about sex too much, and seek after sex too much, we make it an idol.

Isn’t it interesting that this passage in Ephesians talks about both sexual immorality and idolatry as if they were one and the same? We can idolize many things: wealth, career, respect, fashion, but all too often the thing we place above all others is sex. It was the same in the Apostle Paul’s day and nothing has changed. Anything we prioritize more than God is an idol and He calls us to put it away and look to Him first and foremost.

The fruit of the Spirit – Patience

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…patience

Patience is never a subject that Christians want to hear a message about. We’ve all experienced praying for patience, only to have the worst day ever. This may be where the saying “Be careful what you wish for” came from. It seems that when we pray for patience, the Lord gives us some training.

But we should all strive to show patience, so that others may see that something different in us. We must be the ones in the frustrating situation who are keeping a cool head. This is an open door to witnessing to nonbelievers. When we keep our cool, even though everyone around us is losing theirs, people may ask us how it’s so. We must walk through that open door.

If we are to bear fruit as a witness to our Savior, we must have patience to deal with all things that come our way. If we do not have patience with nonbelievers, we will not show them love. If we do not have patience, we will not show kindness in a world that lacks it. Without patience, there is no self-control, and so on and so forth.

To bear any fruit of the spirit, we must exercise patience.

The fruit of the Spirit – Peace

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…peace

Love…joy…and now peace. The fruit of the spirit begins with three very related attributes that a Christ follower should exemplify. Related because the first leads to the second, and the second leads to the third. Without love, we would have no joy; and with no joy, we could have no peace. This means that, indirectly and directly, we cannot have peace without love.

Peace is a byproduct. If one merely strives for peace, but does not achieve the other fruit of the Spirit, peace will not be reached. Much the same can be said for the remainder of the fruit. And it all starts with love.

Peace can be a very elusive thing in our time. With our world constantly growing more busy, one can barely find the time to think about peace, let alone obtain it. It doesn’t help that we’re told from every source around us that we should only look out for ourselves and our own pleasure. The lie of the world is that we will gain peace by seeking the things of this world and thinking only of selfish ambition. But peace will never be reached in this way.

True peace, the kind that Christ promises, cannot be caught by trying to catch peace. No, it is a byproduct of a Christ-centered attitude and heart. When we follow after the will of God, when we love others, when we help those in need, when we exemplify love and have joy, we will get peace. The peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7) will be ours if we seek the Lord first and foremost in our lives.

The fruit of the Spirit – Joy

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the spirit is…joy

What’s the first thing that the nonbeliever can see about a professed believer? It could be argued that one’s emotional state is the first impression that an observer can pick up. If we, as Christ followers, have no joy we don’t send a very appealing message to those watching. If we are to convince the unsaved that we have something that they should want, we should act like it.

This is not to say that we should, at all times, have an ear-to-ear grin on our faces. Times will come in our lives that are nothing to smile about. But if we have the joy of Christ inside us, the way we handle the bad times will be different than the way someone who doesn’t have Christ would handle them. We can show that we have an overall joy in our lives even as we go through down times in our lives. It’s in these times that we will be watched the most.

It can be quite easy to put on a happy face and act like life is perfect even though we know it isn’t, but real joy isn’t about putting on a facade to fool everyone. The Lord’s instructions are not to fool anyone. It is about living out the joy that is within us. Look to Christ as an example.

A few scriptures that offer some help in this area are Matthew 6:27, John 15:11, John 10:10, Romans 8:35, 2 Corinthians 4:9, Psalm 5:11, Psalm 28:7. There are many more that would also offer guidance.

The fruit of the Spirit – Love

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the spirit is love…

Paul starts out the portion of his letter to the Galatian Christians on the fruit of the spirit by stating that love is one of the quality traits we should bear as followers of Christ. One should think there is no coincidence in the fact that this is the first trait listed in the fruit of the spirit. Love is a major theme in God’s Word.

Why is it that love is so important in the life of a Christ follower? Why would love be so important to be listed first among the fruit of the spirit, mentioned so many times throughout the scriptures, and spoken of so often by Jesus Himself? Because without love, everything else is worthless.

Many wedding ceremonies include a reading from I Corinthians 13. We call it “the love chapter”. A wonderful chapter it is, but we often hear it quoted starting in verse 4. This is where the characteristics of love are given. Look just before that verse to find what Paul says on the importance of love. “…if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned; but have not love, I gain nothing.“(2b-3)

Did you catch that? If we have the faith to move mountains, but don’t have love in our hearts, it’s worthless faith! All too often we place more importance on faith and works than on love. The fact is, that those works and that faith ought to be based in love. When we perform kind acts, it should be out of love, not duty. When we sing songs of praise to the Lord, it must be out of love for Him, not obligation.

When Jesus Christ was questioned as to the greatest of the commandments, He listed near the top “love your neighbor as yourself“(Matthew 22:39). If we can keep this commandment, almost everything else we’re instructed to do will come as a natural byproduct.

They will know we are Christians by our love. Let it show.