Best of Daily Reflections: Full Christianity: Doing, Thinking, and Being, Part 2
So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
When I was a boy, I scuffed my feet when I walked. I don't know why I did this, but I did. The proof came in the form of shoe soles that didn't last very long, which, of course, meant that my parents needed to buy me new shoes more often than was necessary. I can still hear my dad's voice as he sternly admonished me: "Mark, don't scuff your feet when you walk!"
When I was young, I needed to learn to walk in a different way. I still do. And so do you. As Christians, we need to learn to walk in the way of God, not the way of the world. According to Ephesians 4:17, "So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking." The verb translated here as "live" is, in the original Greek, peripatein, which is the ordinary verb meaning "to walk." But, in the century before Christ, Greek philosophers began to use this verb in reference to living. Thus, the NIV rightly renders the sense of verse 17: "You must no longer live [walk] as the Gentiles do."
It is certainly true that being a Christian involves actions of obedience that glorify God and reflect his kingdom. Christianity is mainly a matter of "dos" and not mainly a matter of "don'ts." But, there are "don'ts" involved in the life of faith. There are behaviors common to non-Christian folk that we should avoid. And, if we once practiced those behaviors as if they were normal, we will find that we want to put them aside when we belong to the Lord. We will not want to live as the Gentiles do, to use the language of Ephesians 4:17.
As we make our way through Ephesians 4-5, Paul will explain in greater detail some of the Gentile behaviors we need to put aside. He will show us what kinds of new behaviors will replace the old. At this point in our study, we don't get to see the details. What we learn is that our actions matter to God. What we do and what we refrain from doing matter. The God who created us as his agents on earth (Gen. 1:27-28) and who recreated us in Christ for good works (Eph. 2:10) cares deeply about what we do. Full Christianity is about doing. . .but not only doing, as we'll see in our next reflection.
FOR REFLECTION: Can you think of specific behaviors that are common among "the Gentiles" that you have stopped doing because you are a Christian? Can you think of specific behaviors that are uncommon among "the Gentiles" that you have begun to do because you are a Christian? Are there some behaviors you need God's help to put aside now? Are there some behaviors you need God's help to do now?
PRAYER: Gracious God, you have created me as an agent, as one empowered to do things in this world for good. You have recreated me in Christ so that I might walk in good works. You care about what I do. Thank you for honoring me in this way, for seeing me and my actions as important.
Thank you for helping me to put aside certain behaviors of "the Gentiles" that are not pleasing to you. Help me, I pray, to find the strength to refrain from other behaviors, those I find all to easy too do, even though I know I shouldn't.
Thank you for helping me to act in ways that serve you. By your grace, may I do these things more and more. May my "doing" in every part of life—at work, at home, in the community, among my friends, in church—glorify you. Amen.