Read: Ephesians 5:1-7
Reflect: Have you ever tried running a “three-legged race”? Two people stand side by side, their adjacent legs are tied together, and they pump their legs, as one unit, toward the finish line. Progress forward is impossible if you don’t work with your partner. Trying to run at cross purposes means that you quickly fall flat on your face.
MUD PITS THAT CAN SWALLOW US UP
As dearly beloved children believers are called to run a three-legged race with our partner, the Holy Spirit. We are warned of mud pits that can swallow us up if we wander off course in our behaviors: sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed. In the media of our culture, there is an over-riding obsession with personal gratification. Leon Morris comments, “Apart from the marriage relationship, anyone who says, ‘I love you,’ and then wants a sexual encounter only proves themselves a liar. They do not love you; they have a lust for you and see you simply as the object of their selfish, sinful and untamed desire.” That’s definitely not God’s beautiful plan for believers in running the race. This is simply one of the facets of greed; demanding what you want when you want it. The Holy Spirit is ignored.
GREED IS MAKING SURE I HAVE FIRST PLACE
Greed is making sure that I have first place, I have what I’m due, and I have the desires of my heart. In contrast, godly love is selfless and seeks the purity and the holiness of the person being loved. In the three-legged race, it is making sure that God’s plans take first place, above my plans. When that happens, then the Holy Spirit and I can move forward in the same direction. There are no attempts to move at cross purposes. We are able to make progress.
WHEN ARE YOU ARE OFF COURSE?
Do you know how you can tell when you are off course? The stench of the open pit of spiritual manure is approaching. This passage in the NASB translates: Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. God doesn’t dwell in the manure. Besides warning us about impure living, Paul writes: Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place. What is coming out of our mouths?
GRIEVING THE HOLY SPIRIT
Don’t sprinkle your vocabulary with Christian substitutes for 4 letter words. Double entendre and turning what is innocent into innuendoes has no place in this partnership with the Holy Spirit. The stench of all of this coming off of a professing believer is termed “grieving the Holy Spirit”. It means that we offend Him, hurt Him, make Him unhappy when we do things that will hinder Him from fulfilling His assignments in our lives. Do you really want to partner with the Holy Spirit and to cause Him such grief? Do you want to steer off course to the mud pit?
The Apostle Paul gives us a cure for words and thoughts that are out of line: thanksgiving. This produced by the heart that truly loves God. Hebrews 13:15 urges: Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Speech and thought patterns that aren’t pure quickly take us on to a side trip into the manure pit. Our three-legged race runs off the rails. We have fallen down in that partnership with the Holy Spirit. If that is your case, how about for the next week try the training manual of Philippians 4:4-8? That might be exactly the guidance you need for the race without falling flat.