Ephesians 4:15, 26-32 is a treasure trove of Psychology nuggets. Let us establish the macro picture and then we can analyze at least some of the micro specifics. Ephesians 2:15 identifies the objective as becoming, in every respect, the mature body of Christ. With this as the goal, there are things that we must do that will facilitate the process, and there are things that, by not doing them, the process will be facilitated.
There are four players in this “game”, and each is clearly identified.
- First is you, the individual to whom the Apostle Paul is speaking. We are the ones that are being charged to do and not to do.
- Second is the person with whom we come into contact, and to whom we must minister, both materially, spiritually and emotionally.
- Third is God. He is an integral part of empowering us in the process, but is also “emotionally” involved in the outcome. As such, we are not to grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30).
- Fourth is the Devil. He is where God is, always trying to counter and or negate, or at least, neutralize the work of God. He is ultimately defeated, but that is futuristic. Presently he is a pain and a serious problem that must be contained by adhering to the rules of engagement for spiritual warfare. Accordingly, we must not allow him to get a foothold in our lives, because He will climb all the way up to center stage. (Ephesians 4:27).
Let us now look at the things that we must do, and then, at the things that we must not do.
We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)
- We must be angry, if the need arises, and do so without sinning (Ephesians 4:26)
- We must do useful work so that we can take care of our own needs, and have enough left over to help others. (Ephesians 4:28)
- We must cause only what is wholesome to leave our lips, and do so with the intention of helping to build others up according to their needs. (Ephesians 4:29)
- We must so speak as to benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29)
- We must get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and every form of malice. (Ephesians 4:31)
- We must forgive each other just as Christ God forgave us (Ephesians 4:32)
- We must not sin when we are angry (Ephesians 4:26)
- We must not harbor any anger in our hearts after the sun has set. That damages us, and not even the person with whom we are angry.
- We must not give the Devil a foothold. If we give him an “inch” or a “centimeter”, he will take a “yard” or a “meter”. (Ephesians 4:27)
- We must stop stealing, if we have been stealing. Stealing is not just an offence against God, it is also an offense against a fellow human being.
- We must not let any unwholesome, unconstructive talk to leave our lips. It is also very important to remember that it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. So what we really need to be doing is guarding our hearts and minds. (Ephesians 4:19)
- We must not grieve the Holy Spirit. To grieve the Holy Spirit is the ultimate act of stupidity, and yet, I have been guilty repeatedly. Seldom do we wake up and decide that today is a good day to grieve the Holy Spirit. But every time that we do something that is displeasing to Him or disobedient to God’s Word, we are grieving Him. And how about this for a practical motivation? It is He who seals and guarantees my salvation. (Ephesians 4:30)
Every Believer in Christ must be able to appreciate the basics in counselling if we are to encourage one another and build each other up with helpful words. Ephesians 4:29 identifies three important factors. First, effective counselling presumes that somebody is listening. Generally speaking, this is always true, as people continually watch us and listen to us even though we may be unaware of their presence. But specifically in a counselling situation, it is important to first acquire the person’s attention before beginning the process. At times, it actually helps to specifically ask the person for permission to share your thoughts with them. Of course when the person is paying for counselling services, it is assumed that they are willing and ready to listen.
Once you have the person’s attention, the next step is to identify their needs. A good place to start is always their understanding of what their needs are. These are called the “felt needs”, and may not necessarily be the most important of their needs, and seldom are the underlying needs. But it is a great point from which to start. Ephesians 4:29 establishes benefitting the listener as the objective of our speech. To benefit each person in a one-on-one situation, we first must, as accurately as possible, determine their needs.
If we ponder these practical points and practice them we will prove to be valuable assets in God’s Kingdom.
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