Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians 4: 29 – 5: 5 (NIV)
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person – such a man is an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
The Apostle Paul directed these words to the Christian Church in Ephesus where, years earlier, he had proclaimed the Gospel over a period of several months. In this letter he was urging them to “put off the old self” and to “put on the new self”, renewed in their minds by the Gospel of Jesus Christ (4: 22-24).
This is of course just as relevant to us today. There was, for most of us, a former way of life, corrupted by deceitful desires – desires planted there by the evil one to tempt us to regard anything at all to be more attractive than our relationship with our Heavenly Father through Christ. Having “put off the old self”, we are not subject to these desires for we have subjected ourselves, of our own volition, to the lordship of Jesus.
But yet, there can be lapses for those who have “put on the new self”.
Paul’s instructions are positive; although the lapses are mentioned, the better alternatives are presented. Instead of unwholesome talk there is to be what is helpful for building others up (4: 29). Instead of bitterness, rage and anger and the other evils listed, there is to be kindness, compassion and forgiveness (4: 32). Instead of immorality there is to be holy living accompanied by thanksgiving (5: 3, 4). Paul has summed it up by calling on Christian women and men to be imitators of God, living lives of love because of the sacrifice and example of Christ. He has continued to proclaim that Christ loved us and gave himself up for us – and that Christ’s obedience to his Father was a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God which we should emulate.
This is a call for all Christian women and men to be imitators of God in their daily living. It is particularly relevant for Senators and Members of Parliament to be imitators of God in their daily living too, and not only in their electorates where daily they interact with constituents. It is just as relevant in the public forum of Parliament House, especially in the absence of such conduct from others who are not yet followers of Jesus Christ.