READ: Ephesians 4:17-5:2
THINK: Do you tend to think before your speak? Or are you more likely to say what’s on your mind? The fact is that your words mean things. They reflect not only what’s on your mind; they reveal what’s in your heart. God doesn’t take your words lightly, and neither should you. As His representative, you must be careful in your conversations, making sure that they honor God, reflect Christ’s character and build up those who hear.
RESPOND: According to verses 17-18, what are some characteristics of those who do not know or follow Christ? (See 4:17-19 note.) In what way is their understanding “darkened” and how can this contribute to “the hardening of their hearts”? When people lose sensitivity to God, why are they so susceptible to sensuality and “every kind of impurity” (v. 19)? What does it mean to “put off your old self” (v. 22) and “put on the new self” (v. 24)? (See Romans 6:6-11; 12:2 and 13:14 notes.) What are some ways that Christians must become “new in the attitude of your minds”? In practical terms, what warning do you find in verses 26-27 regarding anger? Is all anger bad? Why or why not? (See 4:26 note.) In what way can anger “give the devil a foothold” in your life (v. 27)? What challenge does verse 29 give in regard to your conversation? What would you classify as “unwholesome talk” (v. 29)? What kind of words build people up? What does it mean to “grieve the Holy Spirit”? (See 4:30 note.) Why and in what ways must we be careful not to grieve the Spirit? What behaviors can help us avoid this? (See v. 32.) In what ways can we be “imitators of God” (5:1)?
PRAY: Pray that you develop greater sensitivity to God so you can grow in purity as He intends. Ask for God’s help in controlling your anger and developing attitudes that honor Him and reflect His character. Pray that your conversation may always be pleasing to God and uplifting to others.
ACT: Pay attention to your words and conversations throughout the day. Make sure they are appropriate for a follower of Jesus. Demonstrate a good attitude at all times and try to say things that will build and encourage those who hear you. If you have hurt anyone lately with angry words, apologize and settle things with that person.