Out With the Old, In With the Renewed (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. ³²Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. —Ephesians 4:31-32
“We’re pregnant again?”
My wife, Angela, and I were not expecting another baby, but the Lord had other plans. Our third child was on the way. Once again, Angela began the process of sorting baby clothes—tossing those irreconcilably stained orange by sweet potato baby food, bearing holes worn through by little toes getting bigger, and tattered by crawling knees scampering across wood floors. These she replaced with new clothes from grandma or hand-me-downs from church friends.
It seems our children’s wardrobe is constantly churning—tossing the old, and replacing it with the new. We aspire to someday be “set,” to be “organized” and not have to constantly be replacing and reorganizing. But that’s not reality. The ever-present process continues as our kids grow and our family grows: Out with the old, in with the new.
Paul declares in Ephesians 4:31-32, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” He calls us not to an end state, but to a process of becoming more like our Savior each day. We won’t be finished until we come face to face with our Savior, so until then it’s out with the old, in with the renewed.
As we grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus, and as we cherish him more each day, we see more and more the ways we fall short—the ways we need to be renewed.
In this chapter of Ephesians, Paul is defining what it looks like when we live in light of the blessings we’ve received in Jesus from chapters 1-3: forgiveness of our trespasses, his glorious grace that he has lavished upon us through faith, making us alive in Christ, making us one in Christ, and allowing us to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. Paul rightly concludes that receipt of such blessings should transform a person. We are to walk no longer as the Gentiles—the unbelieving world—do (Ephesians 4:17). Just like sorting through those old baby clothes, we are to put off our old self (Ephesians 4:22) and to put on the new self, modeled after our Creator (Ephesians 4:24).
This has a direct impact on how we treat others. Every conflict is an opportunity to show that Jesus is your treasure—to put on the new. How does a person redeemed by Jesus deal with conflict? The same way our Savior does.
Not with bitterness. Not with wrath. Not with anger. Not with clamor. Not with slander. Not with malice. Not with the world’s ways of dealing with conflict.
We respond with kindness, a tender heart, and forgiveness. Why? Because God in Christ has forgiven you. The forgiven are forgivers (Matthew 18:21-35).
So when conflict arises, out with the old response and in with the renewed. May God give us a heart that treasures Jesus and responds with kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness.
Consider the blessings of Jesus in Ephesians chapter 1-3. How has God expressed His love toward you in Jesus? Which of these blessings do you find particularly striking?
What is your normal response when conflict arises? What does that response demonstrate about what you treasure most?
Who have you most recently had conflict with and how can you respond in a renewed way in light of the blessings of Jesus?