That’s Just Not You! – Week of August 23, 2021
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.
“That’s just not her!” a mom says as her adventuresome, happy-go-lucky child spends the day clinging to her in tears. “That’s just not him!” a daughter says as her once gentle dad becomes more of a challenge for his nurses. Changes like these, often caused by sickness or other ailments, can be so difficult to witness!
In our Bible verses for today, Paul is describing behaviors that are “just not us,” those saved by God’s grace. We see the behaviors listed: bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, every form of malice. Sadly, on second reading, that list actually sounds very much like us! How often have we let a student’s behavior trigger us into a fiery rant or dragged a coworker’s name through the mud? How often have we allowed ourselves to sink into bitterness over our lot in life? The Holy Spirit grieves over each of us, as we turn away from who we are, who his work has made us to be, and return to our old selves that love to let our tongues (or our hearts) run wild.
To this we say, “Lord, forgive us!” And he has! The last and first parts of this section of Scripture tell us what God has done for us and remind us of who we actually are. At the end of this section, we hear “in Christ, God forgave you.” God sent his Son to live through every temptation we live through: to let loose in an ungodly rant, to join in with the wagging tongues, to let the devil have his way in planting bitterness in hearts. Jesus lived through all of these temptations perfectly, for us. Then Jesus went to the cross, to suffer for the countless times we’ve failed. “In Christ,” in Jesus’ work of living perfectly and dying for us, “God forgave you!” The first part of our verses adds that through the Holy Spirit, we are “sealed for the day of redemption.” The Holy Spirit worked faith in your heart to trust in what Jesus had done, and sealed you as God’s own dear child, whom he will carry with the Word all the way to the last day.
So now, when those temptations come, remember who you are. Sealed by the Holy Spirit’s power, armed with God’s Word, you can say no to the evil that so readily comes knocking. And, when you fail, flee to who you are in Christ. This sin that dragged you down? That’s not you! Through the One who became just like you, but without sin, you are holy and perfect in God’s sight. You are his, freed to live in his love and grace.
Prayer:Dear Jesus, how often we stray from who we are! Forgive us for the times that we have allowed anger or slander or bitterness to rule our hearts. Thank you for the precious assurance of who we are in you. Amen.
A Question to Consider:The truth of who we actually are in Christ (not who we are working to be or someday hope to aspire to) is crucial to our understanding of salvation, as well as how we live in our walk toward heaven. Ask your pastor for additional parts of Scripture which address the topic of who we are in Christ. One such portion to consider would be Romans 7:15-all of Romans 8.