Sermon Titled “Guardrails on the Road of Faith” (Ephesians 4:25-32) – Sunday 6th April, 2014
The Collins Dictionary defines a guardrail as “a railing at the side of a staircase, road, etc. as a safety barrier.” In last weekend’s sermon, Pastor Reimer referred to the verses in Ephesians 4:25-32, as “guardrails along the road of faith,” meaning that they are there to guide us and protect us. Paul gives us five specific commands (guardrails) in this passage of scripture:
1. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor, or tell lies!
We all fail to some degree at obeying this command. As much as we want to refrain from joining in on gossip, we often don’t. Gossip usually begins with conversation starters like, “I probably shouldn’t say anything, but……,” and before we know it we’re encouraging the sharing of information that most likely involves unkind or untrue words about someone. Paul says in verse 29 that we are not to engage in “unwholesome” talk. Instead we are to speak only words that are “helpful for building others up according to their needs.”
Lying is also a behavior which gets most of us some of the time. It’s easy to say things like, “No, I never got your message,” or “I would help but I have an appointment,” or “I never said that.” Regardless of the size or seriousness of our lies, we are not to fool ourselves into believing that God overlooks the smaller ones. The simple truth is that God “detests lying lips” (Proverbs 12:22), and we should understand that lies (of any kind) are sinful in His eyes.
2. You shall not murder!
Who murders people, besides those who are exceptionally violent or not in their right minds? Surely this command is not for us, or is it?
1 John 3:15 says that any man who “hates” his brother is a murderer. The word “brother” is mentioned both literally and figuratively throughout the bible, and can therefore refer to “anyone” we are acquainted with – so if there is anyone in our lives whom we hate and detest, we are essentially committing murder “in our minds.”
Murder, by biblical standards, encompasses any act that reeks of anger, revenge, hatred, or even harsh words. It can also extend to acts of negligence, where the opportunity to help someone in dire need is deliberately ignored.
God warns us against being the kind of person who shows no compassion; we are told in Proverbs 21:13 that “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.”
3. You shall not steal!
Here again, is another commandment that many will look at and feel that it doesn’t apply to them. Stealing however, is a sin that is committed far more often that most realize.
When we think of the word “steal,” we tend to imagine people shoplifting, or breaking into homes and taking possessions that don’t belong to them. But there are other “passive” acts of stealing which occur on a regular basis and which many of us are guilty of.
Passive stealing is a more subtle form of stealing, and can include things like: neglecting to return a lost item to it’s rightful owner, failing to take care of something which was entrusted to you, or cheating someone by giving them less pay than what they deserve.
Time-theft is another passive form of stealing, and it often occurs in the workplace where employees repeatedly show up late for work, or take longer lunch breaks, or mess about on the internet when they are supposed to be working. Proverbs 11:3 says, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.”
4. You shall not speak bad words about others!
Much the same as the first guardrail above (“you shall not give false testimony against your neighbor”), we are told not to slander others but to bless them with our words. Granted this is not always easy, as we are tempted on many occasions to tear down those who anger us or do wrong by us. But the bible clearly says that we are to forgive the offenses committed against us, just as Christ forgave us our offenses.
Remember too, that words have power. Most of us can recall specific words spoken to us in our childhoods; words which either promoted self-confidence, or damaged self-esteem. Pastor Reimer suggests that we get into the habit of laying hands on our children and praying God’s blessings over them; for example:
- “The Lord bless you, (insert child’s name), and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”
5. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit!
Ephesians 4:31 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that we are usually provoked to anger when we don’t get our way! Rarely are our motives for being angry completely pure, yet we convince ourselves that we have every right to feel betrayed or offended.The truth is, we grieve God when we refuse to let go of our anger.
Holding a grudge is one of my own personal weaknesses; my husband likes to deal with our conflicts immediately and find resolution, but I take much longer to come around and tend to silently “stew” on everything. The longer I allow my anger to fester however, the easier it is to lean more towards bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness.
Ephesians 4:32 says that I must be “kind and compassionate,” and ready to forgive just as Christ forgave me.
Use these guardrails to guide you along the road of faith, and as you stay within the confines of them you’ll enjoy the safety of God’s protection and the blessings He promises to those who obey.