Practical Ways to Make Straight Paths

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Devotional Word for Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Bible is a very practical book. It is meant to be lived out in real life. Though it is filled with the most elevated thoughts about life, about how we should think about God, about notions of the good, the true, and the beautiful, the Bible is likewise filled with the most down-to-earth instructions about how to live according to God’s will. Yesterday, we mentioned the instruction in Heb. 12:12,13 about making straight paths for our feet. We did not, however, consider any practical ways to do so. Today, we will do so. Our text will be Ephesians 4:25-32. I think you’ll agree with me that it is very practical, very difficult to misunderstand. Let’s start.

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. [Eph. 4:25] Let’s note this pattern: out with one thing; in with its replacement. In this instance, quit telling lies. Purpose to speak truth at all times. That sounds simple, but it is a challenge. We should quit fudging the facts and speak truthfully.

Be angry and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. [Eph. 4:26-27] Bitterness is an open door for the devil to work in our lives. We must purpose not to be unforgiving, accusatory, and bitter. When we’re told not to let the sun go down on our anger, it means we should deal with it that day. Don’t let it fester. Don’t brood over it. We will get angry – nothing wrong with that necessarily – but then deal with it. Properly.

He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. [Eph. 4:28] This is straightforward. Don’t steal. Anything. Period. Stop it. Instead of seeking to get what other people have for yourself, work on your own. As you work, your goal should be to provide for your own household, certainly, but also to be able to give to others who may have a need. The focus on others is not to get what they have, i.e. to steal, but to give what they need. 

Let no unwholesome/rotten word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. [Eph. 4:29] This is very sound instruction for the days in which we live. Vile words are heard everywhere we turn. Don’t be part of that, don’t follow that pattern. This also speaks to words used to belittle or attack someone, often spoken in moments of anger, frustration, or disappointment. Instead, purpose to speak a word that will build up, bring forgiveness, or cast vision. And sometimes we just need to be silent.

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. [Eph. 4:30] This is a statement we take into account too little. Our practical actions, our behavior, our words, can bring grief to God. The Holy Spirit is at work in Christians. He has sealed us for heaven but is transforming us while we’re here on earth. When we choose to respond in anger or tell that untruth or take what is not ours, it grieves God. May it grieve us to grieve God.

Finally, there is a summation of what to put-off and what to put-on: Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and harsh words and slander be put way from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. [Eph. 4:31-32] I don’t know about you, but I long for that to be true in my life. I don’t want to be bitter; I don’t want to have malice toward anyone. I do want to be tender-hearted, ready and willing to forgive. When we consider God’s great mercy towards us each and every day, how can we not desire to have that same attitude toward those around us? 

So, there we have it. Very practical ways to make straight paths for our feet. Remember, we don’t make straight paths for our feet in order to gain heaven, but in gratitude for heaven having been given to us in Christ Jesus. Big difference.

Let’s pray: Father we come to You and thank You for your goodness to us. Thank You Holy Spirit for working in us. Continue to call us to follow Christ more fully. Continue to chide us when we flirt with disobedience. Continue to show us that good way You have for us in each situation we face. And, Lord Jesus, thank You for Your great salvation, for bringing full and free redemption to us. O Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we love You and give ourselves to You. Amen.