Summary: Putting off of old things-like old clothing crusted with mud-we are commanded to put off falsehood and put on truth.
25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Truth Instead of Falsehood (Anger Management)
This is the heart of the Hausaufgaben described in the outline at the beginning. Putting off of old things-like old clothing crusted with mud-we are commanded to put off falsehood and put on truth. There has been some recent research that indicates that on average people lie three or four times in every conversation, more so when meeting a stranger. There is an investment company that records every corporate meeting and stores the recordings so any employee can listen. They lose about 30% of their new hires within about 18 months, but those who stay seem to love it. There are no secret agendas. Everyone knows what everyone else thinks. There is no choice but brutal honesty. It is one of the most successful investment companies in the world, managing tens of billions of dollars.
Imagine how much simpler life would be if we eliminated lying from our daily habits-completely. Imagine the peace from knowing you don’t have to remember what you said because you have no lies to cover. God wants us to have peace. He also wants us to have the benefit of living in a community of truth, rather than a community of lies. Imagine the freedom that comes from having nothing to hide. Put off lies. Put on the truth. It’s much better fashion.
Self-Control Instead of Anger
Many people feel that when you’re angry the best thing you can do is just let it out-vent your anger, like venting the steam from a pressure cooker. It releases the pressure and makes you feel better. Venting your anger actually does produce some stimulation of the reward centers in your brain. It also wires your brain for more anger, anti-social and aggressive behavior. Research on the subject has concluded that exercising self-control is healthier for everyone. In every healthy relationship there will come times that we will be angry with each other. We need to combine exhortation one with exhortation two-Be honest. Discuss what you are angry about. But do so without vitriol. Be truthful without being hurtful or vengeful. By discussing the things that make us angry, in an environment of acceptance and love, we actually become closer rather than hurting each other and building walls between one another to prevent further hurt. Be angry. Be honest. Get the discussion over with, and move on. Don’t leave anger to brew for another day.
Giving Instead of Taking
One thing I think is not talked about enough in Church is generosity. Generosity is one of the central themes of the New Testament. God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Luke 6:38). Jesus also said “It is more blessed to give than to receive”. We may think that quote would be in the Gospels, but it’s not. It finds itself in the book of Acts, chapter 20. There Paul is speaking to the Elders of the Church-talking about the principles he had taught them. He knows he won’t see them again, so he shares with them the most important teachings of his ministry. This is what he said:
You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” Acts 20:34-35
Many people teach that if you go into ministry you have to give up regular work. Paul taught differently. He said “if a man won’t work he shouldn’t eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). We are exhorted to work hard, make enough income to meet the needs of our family, and a bit more, so we have something to give to those who can’t take care of themselves. There is no place for laziness in the community of those who follow Jesus. We are all called to work hard, and produce so we can be generous. There are tremendous blessings in this.
So, in all these things, Paul encourages us to replace bad with good-replace lies with truth, replace anger with anger with healthy communication and replace laziness with diligence.