As I’ve been looking at these passages this time around, I’ve been seeing them in a whole new light. Up until now, I’ve always thought of these verses as merely touching my personal life. But as we have seen, Paul has been speaking in the context of the church. He said that the dividing wall that stood between Jew and non-Jew was torn down, and now all Christians are to be one body in Christ, with nothing dividing us.
With that in mind, he says what does in this passage. And his whole point is how to maintain unity within the body of Christ.
He emphasizes this right off the bat in verse 25, saying,
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.
It’s hard to be one with someone you are not truthful with. This is true in friendship, in marriage, and within the church. I think sometimes we take the truth too lightly. We’re too quick to tell white lies. Or we see sin in the lives of our brothers and sisters, and we fail to speak truth to them for fear of their reaction. But as we saw in verse 14, we are to speak the truth, in love, so that they may be built up.
By the way, that’s an important point. Many people pride themselves on being “brutally honest.” But what is the purpose? For most, it’s to tear down the other person. And if that’s your purpose, you’re better off keeping your mouth shut until your attitude is right. When you can honestly before God say, “I’m telling them this because I love them and want to build them up,” then that’s the time to speak.
Paul then says,
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (26-27)
It’s okay to be angry. But how do you deal with it? Do you unthinkingly just blast the other person? Or do you let it simmer in your heart, letting bitterness take root within you? Both are wrong, and by doing so, you let Satan have a foothold in your life.
But again, Paul is talking primarily to the church. And the thing to remember is that when people in the church let anger take root in their hearts, they are giving Satan a foothold in the church itself, to divide and destroy it.
Paul then says,
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. (28)
Here we see an important principle: It’s not good enough to stop doing evil to one another; we are to do good to one another, and again, the goal is the building up of Christ’s body.
I’ll stop here for now and continue this tomorrow, but for now, here’s the thing to think about: Are your actions unifying Christ’s body, or dividing it? Are your actions building up Christ’s body or tearing it down?