Summary: Impure passions become vehicles we take for a joyride end up like self-driving cars that take us where we don't want to go. They become our lords. But if we pursue purity of action and speech, these same passions become angels that lift us to heaven
Ephesians 5:4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.
Thanks Instead of Bad Words
What is in a name? If a rose were called an onion, 'twould still smell as sweet. There's quite a lot in words. We've talked about words and their reflection and impact on our hearts previously. Today, please consider what Paul offers as the alternative to three forms of bad talk, thanksgiving.
The Greek word for thanksgiving is εὐχαριστία-eucharistia-yes, for those of you from a liturgical background, you'll recognize this as the word used for the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist, or Communion, the breaking of the bread and sharing of the wine. I'm fascinated by this word, and its root, that makes up a collection of words that get to the heart of our Faith
In the middle of eucharistia is charis. Charis means grace.
Grace means getting the good you don't deserve. The word gratefulness in English comes from this concept of grace.
a related word is charitos-gift
Even God's grace is a gift. The idea of gift is that it is given freely and has to be received to be enjoyed.
one more word within this word
You may recognize this as the beginning of the English word Character. Yes. Joy and character go together.
Eu-good Charis-grace tia, thing-so good, gracious talk brings joy, joy that lasts. This is a great contrast with the things Paul recommends we shun.
Obscenity is dirtiness. Foolish talk is morologia-moron talk. Coarse joking is dirty jokes. All of these are related-all concern using bad words. All may give us a brief jolt of pleasure or laughter, but the kind that doesn't last long. God wants us to replace bad words with gratefulness and joy.
Recent research has demonstrated the power of being thankful. People who are grateful are less likely to suffer from heart disease, sleep better, and have healthier relationships and habits (for easy reading: http://time.com/4124288/thanksgiving-day-2015-thankful-gratitude/ For those a bit more academically inclined: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010965/) There is also power in joy. The September/October 2016 edition of Scientific American Mind describes research that indicates that people with a good sense of humor-who laugh often-live longer, and are less likely to die of heart disease and infections. The benefits are stronger among women than men (p. 17). :-)
In the middle of Paul's discussion of words he repeats the triple threat discussed last time: sexual immorality, impurity and greed all constitute idolatry. I think this may be related to what CS Lewis said
We may give our human loves the unconditional allegiance which we owe only to God. Then they become gods: then they become demons. Then they will destroy us, and also destroy themselves. For natural loves that are allowed to become gods do not remain loves. They are still called so, but can become in fact complicated forms of hatred. -The Four Loves
Paul encourages us to replace those passions toward impurity, that can drive us to destruction, with passions that drive us to God. Impure passions become vehicles we take for a joyride end up like self-driving cars that take us where we don't want to go. They become our lords. But if we pursue purity of action and speech, these same passions become angels that lift us on their wings to where we do want to go-to heaven-to God. In the process we make this world a much better place.
Prayer for Today
Conform the good drives You placed in me for pleasure and joy to Your will.
In Jesus name