I realize not everyone believes in the Bible, though I do. However, these life lessons that are drawn from a book of the Bible called Ephesians, I think can apply to most anyone, regardless of religious belief. These lessons are drawn from my own life experiences, and occasionally, also from those around me whom I have observed and heard.
Without further ado, here is the passage where I will focus:
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Ephesians 4:25-29 (KJV)
Here are some of the life lessons that I learned from these verses:
- It is better to be honest, because honesty unites, but lying separates close friends.–Even gossip can be a form of lying, as I have realized the hard way at work. A lot of people have spread rumors about certain people at work. Most of them were not founded in an ounce of truth! I have seen these rumors influence how others thought and acted towards these people, without finding out from the source as to whether these statements were true or not. To think we acted or spoke in hurtful ways towards another because of unproven rumors we heard about someone! What I learned from this is to a.) Try not to listen to rumors, especially if you don’t know the truth in it, and b) Try to verify from the source or sources of the rumors themselves the veracity of the rumors. It is often not as dramatic and bad as it has been related. For another example, when we learn people’s life stories (Post on that is at this link) and people are vulnerable and honest with each other, I find that these things often unite people. Before I really knew one of my managers, I hated him. I didn’t understand why he had aggravated me so much. However, one day, when he told me about some of the pain he went through in his life, and God intervened in our lives, the hate and aggravation that I felt for him began to melt away and be replaced with only love and compassion. When I honestly tell other people my life story, people also begin to act with more love and compassion towards me.
- Don’t let anger fester in your heart for more than a day, lest it turn into bitterness and resentment later. –Because, in the past, I had held grudges against certain people for a really long time (literally, years), my spiritual and emotional growth were stunted. Yes, I did grow, but not as much as I should have. I now realize why I had trouble applying some spiritual principles to my life at the time.—I held grudges, and thus couldn’t receive God’s (or anyone else’s, for that matter) forgiveness in my life. It was only when I let go of these long-standing grudges and intentionally began to act with kindness and grace towards my offenders, that I started to grow spiritually the way God (and, frankly, I as well) wanted to for so long. Now, my policy is to try to resolve issues that I have with a person within a day, or a week, at the very latest. However, I try my very best to follow the day rule prescribed in Scripture. This way, my anger dissipates quickly, and I can be at peace with that person as soon as possible. I wish everyone followed this principle because this can have practical benefits to not only other people, but also our own emotional growth as well. When people succumb to bitterness and resentment towards others, and hold grudges, I find that they get discouraged and disgruntled more easily than those who let go. These grudge-holders are often the first to complain, and the last to say “thank you”. Don’t let resentment and bitterness rule over you. Let. It. Go.
- Live to encourage others, not put down others.—There is a saying that goes like this: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Nothing could be further from the truth! I’m sure each one of you has been hurt by the sting of condescending and demeaning words before. Almost twenty years ago, one of my teachers almost destroyed my motivation to live and help others. He never beat me up physically, but I still feel the sting of his words today. Some of my peers, who bullied me at school, also said things to hurt me. Though I wish these people nothing but the best, words can still have a crippling effect on me. Because I know the pain of hurtful words, I strive to encourage others as much as possible. Yes, I fail at times at encouraging others, as we all do, but we must do our best. I want to only speak words that will help and/or uplift someone‘s spirit. I want others to be able to see that I value and care about them, especially through how and what I speak to them. If we live to encourage, and not tear down, we may be able to save the lives of people that have almost given up emotionally, as we revive their spirits.
These are some of the life lessons I learned from Ephesians 4. When we are honest, and not deceptive with one another, when we resolve our anger and problems quickly to be at peace with others, and when we live to encourage others, I believe we will lead more spiritually and emotionally successful lives. May we live with love and compassion for one another!