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It is not always easy to be loving and kind. Ephesians 4.29 - Ephesians 5.5

The intense afternoon heat had passed and the early evening was pleasantly warm. A group of young people came together in the middle of summer to stay connected—to God and to each other. Snapshots linger in my mind of first one face and then another singing sweet words to God, totally unashamed. To set up the lesson I had, we played charades—you know, one person gestured and mimed clues to his teammates until the correct answer was guessed—clues were given for movies and television shows, well-known athletes, etc.. Among them was The Lion King, The Office, and Michael Jackson. At the end of the list, I tagged on “God”, which caused one guy's eyes to get really big, as he took a step back, and said, ‘Whoa…’ then commenced reaching out to hug the air, stretch out his arms (like on a cross), and then hug again. He got it and they guessed it, “Jesus!” “God!” Yes indeed. He imitated Jesus by loving and dying sacrificially. Then I taught from the same passage we are looking at today, keeping in mind Paul was telling us we ought to endeavor to 'be imitators of God'. Seriously, with so many lies swirling in our culture today, it is my highest desire for us to look to the Bible as both our inspiration and our roadmap; there is no truer guide. A lot of slogans, t shirt graphics and the like popped up concerning kindness in the last couple years: Practice Kindness, Be Kind, Kindness is Good, etc. But how? Paul gave us specifics 2000-plus years ago, starting at the end of Ephesians chapter four: 1-Love as Christ loved 2-Treat others well 3-Speak well 4-Get rid of evil behavior 5-Seek God’s purity 6-Be grateful, not greedy Step a little closer, will you? Love as Christ loved, sacrificially giving of himself. Live a life filled with love,1 following his steady example. Jesus said, So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.2 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.3 And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.4 Question for self: do I love sacrificially? Treat others well. Be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving. ARE YOU CARRYING AROUND UNFORGIVENESS? It is time to obey God and forgive. Period. Paul told the Colossians, “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”5 Speak well. Say helpful things, not hurtful ones. Note to self: This means all of my communication, not just what comes out of my mouth … may it be pleasing to God! [that's your text messages, etc.] Consider Jesus’ warning: “And I tell you this, you must give an account on judgment day for every idle word you speak. The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” 6 Get rid of evil behavior. Including anger, bitterness, and slander. Reminds me of this thought from Proverbs: There are six things the Lord hates—no, seven things he detests: haughty eyes, a lying tongue,hands that kill the innocent, a heart that plots evil, feet that race to do wrong,a false witness who pours out lies, a person who sows discord in a family.7 Seek God’s purity. Don’t set your sails by the world’s standard, because we have a higher one. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”8 Finally, Be grateful, not greedy. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.9 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God.10 These flow from a heart that has been changed by the love of God. Once we come to know and experience God’s love and kindness, we seek to know him more, grow in connection to him, so that his love and his spirit will transform us into people for whom love comes naturally. Song for you to love, to ponder . . . a song to motivate us to love: "Who will love me for me?" I guess those are the words of my life . . . my story. Christine  1 – Ephesians 5.2 2 – John 13.34 3 – John 15.13 4 – Mark 12.30-31 5 – Colossians 3.12 6 – Matthew 12.36-37 7 – Proverbs 6.16-19 8 – 1 Peter 1.15-16 9-1 Thessalonians 5.18 10-Ephesians 5.5a

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