Monday, March 19, 2012

Duck Evangelism, Part 4


“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.”  Ephesians 5:8-10 

I hope the lessons from these past few days have been as convicting to you are they have been to me.  The greatest inference I am coming to as we get further into these scripture passages is that when God wants to prepare us to be useful for Himself, His first concentration is to make sure we are completely focused on Him and our hearts are dedicated alone on His will for our lives.  Only when we get that first relationship right can we be useful in His hands to share His love and light (that we will talk about today) with those around us.   So, let’s get started.

These verses from Ephesians on a first read through sound a bit cryptic, and in a way they are because the words in the original Greek mean so much more than what our current translation allows us to understand.  If you can bear with me through the Greek grammar and vocabulary lessons I have provided below, I promise the increase in wisdom this exercise will bring will have been worth the drudgery.

Here are some of the words and phrases from the above verses expanded:  In using the word “darkness”, Paul was getting at the imagery of being obscured/covered/shrouded.  Think of having a heavy dark blanket thrown over your head and you will get a better idea of the word picture being shared here.  Then the phrase “light in the Lord” has an equivalent meaning of a presentation or manifestation of true/real light (nothing fake or manufactured), rather the light that is radiated by GOD Himself.

Taking these two parts from verse 8 and piecing them back together reveals a greater meaning when read as the following:  “For you were once completely covered in the muck left by the evil of this world to the point you could not see out from under the filth that had completely encased you, but now you are living in a place where everything is exposed by the light which God is radiating in your life and you have been uncovered and are now able to see what you once were not able to see.”  How thankful I am when I contrast the groping ways I used to maintain to how I live now in the light of the Lord.  The way I used to perceive the world was a direct result of the prison of guilt and shame that sin kept me captive in.  But in stark contrast, the gift of the light of the Lord my life has taken away that darkness and left nothing for me to fear because God has exposed everything and made my way visible.

The next two verses I am going to take apart and reconstruct in a different manner because it will make more sense in the end.  First we are going to take the foremost text and derive its greater meaning and then after we are done with that we are going to go back to the text in the parenthesis and dissect it separately.  In the end we will put it all together and realize what a wonderful truth we have to behold and claim in our relationship with our Lord.

If you remember from Part 1 of this series we talked about the word “walk” and how the tense and definition of the word could be translated as a continuous treading around or a preoccupation, well the same definition and tense applies to this word “walk” also.  Furthermore, the verse goes on to say that this type of walking should be happening in a manner that defines the walker as a “child[ren] of light”, or in taking from the expanded definition from verse 8 the walker would be the “offspring of the True Light”.  As we continue to dig into the tense and definitions of the original Greek we find out the walker is also commanded to be constantly testing, discerning, and distinguishing (the expanded meaning of “finding out”) what is “acceptable to the Lord”.  That is, what steps are fully agreeable with what God wills.

We have just taken a big bite that needs a bit of processing to be more digestible, so here are those pieces reconstructed into verses 9 and 10 without the parenthesis portion added:  “Be completely preoccupied in your life with living in a manner that sets you apart as an offspring of the True Light, making sure that with every step you are testing and making sure each step you make is in line with what God wills for you.” Now that is a cautious and purpose driven way to walk!

So, what about those words in the parenthesis?  Well, while we are walking as prescribed in verses 9 and 10, making sure our ways are acceptable and agreeable with God’s will, we will find that the fruit of the Spirit is what we generate from our efforts.  Or more specifically, the fruit of the Spirit defined by the qualities of goodness, righteousness and truth.  Here is a further definition of each of those qualities:

  • Goodness  is something we do that benefits another person and our relationship with them
  • Righteousness is living right before God and in our relationship with Him
  • Truth is personal integrity or a right relationship with ourselves where we allow God to show us who we really are in His eyes

Can you now see why these verses are so important for us to live and understand before we are able to share God’s truth with a watching world?  As I said at the beginning of this lesson, the convictions are high in these lessons.  When we take our lives and realistically compare them to the way God asks us to walk behind Him, we are proven to be very pitiful representations of the ideal picture being set before us.

So, what about our duck?  Well she need to first remember her previously shrouded state from her puddle dwelling days and then live a grateful existence following the Big Daddy duck because of all clear purpose he has given her and the mud he has cleaned off of her.  She needs to preoccupy all of her time in the pond always being on the look-out for what the Big Daddy duck considers as allowable behavior in the pond.  And in the end, the gauge of whether her pond dwelling is effective or not will be measured through the fruit of the relationships she has with other pond ducks in the pond, her Big Daddy duck, and with herself (self-image).

In our lives we need to focus on these four simple lessons as we conclude our time together today:  First, do not forget where you came from before you came to Christ and what it was like when you lived not knowing about or understanding your sinfulness.  This perspective that God gives you will help look on others you encounter with pity more so than judgment.  Second, remember the True Light is God and on your own you cannot shine truth onto or into anything.  Thirdly, the fruit of our relationships is a gauge of the Spirit at work.  And finally, as children of the Lord we are not perfected, we are just in the right place to learn and grow towards perfection. We have the job of testing and learning as we get to know with each step what is agreeable to God’s will.

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