A church received a letter from a guy in prison who planted their church.
This man’s name is Paul. As some know; his birth name was actually Saul. And Saul ravaged and destroyed the church even killing Christians. And on his way to do more of this damage, he was knocked off his high horse (literally & figuratively) and blinded. He became a Christian and changed his name to Paul. He was able to see again and became a missionary writing most of the New Testament.
Some refer to him as the Apostle Paul. The word Apostle means one who is sent. He was sent by God to plant 14 churches all over Asia Minor and Europe.
Most of his writings that are part of the Bible were letters that he wrote to the churches he planted. Including the church in Ephesus. His letter to them we call the book of Ephesians.
The people of Ancient Ephesus had a fascination with magic, which is why throughout the letter Paul emphasizes the power of God.
By the way… we use scripture because we believe that it is God-breathed and that it is filled with truth and wisdom for our lives. So even though Paul writes this book, we believe God through Paul writes it.
In the letter Paul talks about how we are all one in the body of Christ and then begins a new idea:
- 25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. 26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and give no opportunity to the devil. 28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. 29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
All Bitterness, wrath, anger, slander, clamor (shouting), malice (desire to injure) shall be put away. Bitterness is at the top of the list because it leads to all the others. Bitterness comes from a heart that is not right before God (as found in Acts 8.21), and it is a primary characteristic of an unrepentant person.
Kyle MacDonald was a 26-year-old blogger. He became famous for trading a red paper clip for a house. Yes, you read that right. A paper clip for a house.
How did he accomplish this? Well, he didn’t have a job, but one day he looked at a red paper clip on his desk and decided to trade it on Craigslist. He asked people to trade with him anything of value, but he was clear that he needed to trade up.
He got a response almost immediately from a pair of young women in Vancouver who offered to trade him a pen that looked like a fish. Kyle then bartered the fish pen for a handmade doorknob then for a camp stove, then for a 100-watt generator.
In Queens, N.Y., he exchanged the generator for the “instant party kit” an empty beer keg and an illuminated Budweiser sign. Then he traded the keg and sign for a snowmobile. He bartered the snowmobile all the way up to an afternoon with rock star Alice Cooper which he promptly traded for a Snow Globe depicting the rock group KISS. Then he approached actor Corbin Bernsen with the snow globe in exchange for a paid role in a Corbin Bernsen movie called Donna on Demand.
Now, why would Corbin Bernsen trade a role in a film for a KISS snow globe? MacDonald had done his homework. Corbin happens to be one of the biggest snow globe collectors on earth with a collection of 6500 snow globes. Corbin went for MacDonald’s offer.
That’s when MacDonald took the role in the movie and exchanged it to the town of Kipling, Saskatchewan for a farmhouse. The town, in turn, held a competition for the movie role. So MacDonald traded up to a house. But MacDonald is not done yet. He is currently still looking for other projects.
Mounted in the yard is a giant red paper clip symbolizing the art of trading.
Learn the art of trading.
Trade the old for a first step into the new.
In verse 28 Paul uses a thief to illustrate how repentance impacts one’s lifestyle. It involves trading. The thief trades stealing for honest work.
So it’s not just stopping but starting.
Learn the art of stopping and starting.
Where does stealing come from? It comes from laziness and greed.
So the thief must display the opposite: diligence and willingness to share.
If you can change the way you think,
you are ready for the art of trading.
What in your life could use a little trading up?
What would God be happy with you stopping in your life?
What could you start in place of, that would put a smile on the face of Jesus?
Because we all want Jesus to smile on us right?
Isn’t that the goal?
May you learn the art of stopping and starting.
May you take off your old self and fully put on the new you.
This article originally appeared on www.calvarynaperville.org