Let us pray: Dear Savior, You are the Best of the best. You are the King of kings and Lord of lords. No one is wiser, more caring, and more loving than You. And amazingly, You are our Friend and Savior! May we imitate You as best we can in all things. For then we will be wise, too. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR LOVING LORD!
TEXT: Ephesians 4: 30—5:2
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
I was dating my lovely wife. It was about this time of the year, early Fall. One Saturday afternoon I showed up unannounced and caught her cleaning her mother’s garage. I think she shrieked a bit when she saw me. That’s when I learned the first rule of dating: Never show up announced at a lady’s house! She was covered with garage dust, wearing smudged clothing. I thought she was beautiful. She was embarrassed that she didn’t look: just right. Now, after 39 years of marriage, we laugh about such things.
Every spring and every fall my mother-in-law would employ the “troops” to thoroughly clean the house and garage. Every floor, every surface, was washed, wiped down, and things were sorted and tossed. I think that is what Debra Ann was doing that day in the garage. She was getting rid of junk. On this Labor Day weekend we need to start getting rid of junk, as well. Namely the: junky sins that we’ve collected. We need to go into the months ahead clean, shiny, and polished.
“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” The sins listed there are internal ones that show externally. Suck on a lemon and you’ll mess up your face because its bitter. Bitterness towards another person will deform you from the inside out. Get rid of it! Rage and anger spill over into physical confrontations and verbal abuse. It also deforms your countenance. Get rid of it! And since malice is another word for evil, well, evil is never, ever, beautiful. Get rid of it! Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by holding onto such corruption. It’s dirty. And dirt is not beautiful. So, this Labor Day weekend focus on your own personal house-cleaning. Engage in cleaning up your soul.
We do so via repentance. By carefully examining our lives and giving our dirt to God. Jesus Christ, His Son, wants our dirty sins. He came to carry our dirt to the cross. And when He died on it, He left our dirt behind. The cross of Christ is the most dirty “thing” ever found on this earth. But, for us, it’s also the most clean—because it makes us clean before God. Moreover, it has the power to transfer total cleansing to each of us through the faith.
So, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Kindness is never out of style. Compassion, or carrying another’s pain, is never out of style either. And both occur when you’re forgiving from the heart. Forgiveness is an interesting word. Take it apart and you have the old Anglo-Saxon word: “Fore” meaning “before” and “gave” stemming from the verb: “give.” Put them together and you have: give to another beforehand. Before they ask for it, before they prove their worth to you, before they have earned your kindnesses—give them to others. Forgiveness is love unearned by the guilty party. It is pure love in action. So it was with Christ forgiving us and so it should be, it must be, for us who seek to follow in His footsteps.
This is Paul’s point when he now says: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant
offering and sacrifice to God.”
Be imitators. That’s a loaded expression. And Who better to hold up as a role model than Jesus Christ? Today we live in a celebrity-driven culture. Pop stars, sports stars, social media stars—it seems everyone is a role model in some way except one—Jesus Christ. It’s sad, isn’t it? He’s the Perfect Star. He’s the bright Morning Star. He’s the Light of the world. He’s the One Who is perfect love in human form who came to save our souls and make us eternally clean. He’s the only One who can sort out our messy lives and make us pure and holy. He will never lead us astray. So, why not imitate Him? Why not be “kind and compassionate and forgiving”? All you have to lose is your internal dirt…..
Remember that old saying: “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”? I suppose that was one reason why our mothers and grandmothers had us clean out the garage and clean the whole house each Spring and Fall. They wanted that physical reminder of being clean to be firmly implanted in our minds. It reinforced the greater truth. So get busy with your Fall soul-cleaning. Make use to the water of life provided in your baptism to scrub the dirt of sin away! Don’t miss a Sunday with communion when God literally puts our clean Savior in you to heal from the inside out. Don’t forget to pray each day, perhaps many times daily, for specific healing and help. Yes, put your priorities into their proper slot. Organize right from wrong and don’t be afraid to ditch the junk. Christ did. He threw it all unto the cross and left it there…..Amen