“for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness, and truth) trying to LEARN what is pleasing to the Lord.Ephesians 5:8-10
Also, looking back at:
“Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth, each one with his neighbor, for we are members with one another. And be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.Ephesians 4:25-27
I am studying Ephesians again (First5/Proverbs31Women), which I have read and studied many times over the years. Almost the whole book is highlighted and the margins in my Bible are filled with notes.
This lesson today on the light spoke to me in a different way than what I’ve always gleaned from these truths before. These are just thoughts-I’m no theologian for sure!
It’s always been pretty clear that absolute truth is God. His truth is different from the “world’s truth” in a million ways. His truth shines the light of the gospel to darkened hearts. The darkness of our sin is exposed to the light and causes us to repent and ask God for a clean heart, one that glorifies Him. Truth is the gospel of Christ, who humbly came, died a sacrificial death as the perfect lamb, resurrected to life so that I could live with Him for eternity righteous and holy because I have been redeemed by His blood. This is truth.
Today, this word “truth” stood out in a way just a little bit differently. Sometimes truth is hard. Sometimes, we bury truth deeply and deny its existence. Sometimes, we want truth to be all butterflies and unicorns.
As I read “lay aside falsehood, speak truth with your neighbor” I’m seeing that many times it is easier to speak falsehood in that we may agree with someone that his sin is justified (maybe jealousy, maybe resentment or bitterness, or some worry or fear of the future). Listening with understanding is definitely something we need to do, but we should be careful not to give ungodly counsel. Sometimes, we listen to gossip, maybe not “participating” but not turning the conversation around. In our attempt to maybe keep peace and unity by not telling our “neighbor” that his thinking or actions are faulty or sinful or just not truth, we are not bringing unity. It hurts the relationship. It actually hurts the body of Christ. We need to bring the gospel light through truth in love.
When I have read this verse about being angry without sin, I read it kind of separately from the previous verse. I heard it taught so many times that you should never go to bed angry at your spouse, that you need to work it all out before the “sun goes down”. That may be a valuable lesson here, but in one of the comments made in a devotional for this study was that maybe instead of it meaning something has to be worked out with another person, I just need to not let any anger remain in my own heart. This can give the devil opportunity to grow it all through the night in a spiritual attack, causing wrong thoughts and feelings and actions. Am I ending my day in prayer thanking and praising God? Am I holding anger or worry or fear when I go to sleep giving Satan the opportunity to grow it?
Another thought I had about this hard truth we try to maybe ignore or deny its existence is the truth that sin brings consequences, not only in our own lives, but in the lives of others, usually the ones we love the most. Why? Because as fellow believers, we are one body. What hurts one hurts the other. What do we do when someone gets hurt because of our sin or our choices, even if it’s totally unintentional?
One hard truth is the choice of adoption did not take away the consequences of my sin away from my daughter. She was still impacted by my sin and the resulting choices. The result was trauma. Just because I didn’t know about infant trauma, just because I believed what I was told when she was born that she would be better off without me, doesn’t change the truth. I can choose to keep it buried and ignore it. I can justify it. I can also hide myself from the truth-almost like choosing to stay in the darkness. The fact that I cannot change my past is true but it’s not all of the truth. If the light shines on it then I can see it. I will actually see the hurt this trauma has caused, instead of denying it exists. If I see it then I have to deal with it. God doesn’t show us truth to condemn us. The light He shines is Christ in us. We are to walk as children of light. Sin hides in the darkness. He doesn’t want me hiding in guilt and shame. I can see it and then seek God’s will. I can listen, understand, seek forgiveness and be a part of the healing process.
So, I read many things about adoption, to learn more about what my daughter may be feeling because of trauma from adoption. Not because her parents did something wrong-quite the opposite, or that she is somehow not grateful enough, because she loves her parents dearly, but because she lost everything she knew when she was born. Me.
As she is figuring out what all this means, studying about the brain and trauma, understanding how her feelings about life were affected, she is unraveling the truth from the lies. She is lining these facts up against Scripture knowing God has a plan for her life. He had a plan before she was even formed in the womb.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you…”Jeremiah 1:5a
I can choose to be a part of this truth search or I can choose not to. Sure, the truth can be heart breaking, but God is in the business of healing. The more I let Him show me truth, the more I allow Him to heal not only my own heart, but hers. If I was a part of the hurt from the very beginning, I find it truly amazing that I can be a part of the healing now.
Maybe it’s okay that I am angry that she suffered trauma. I can be angry that she has felt like she shouldn’t share or even have these feelings of not enough, so common among adoptees. I can even be angry about adoption-all I missed, as long as I don’t let it turn to bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness. Be angry and do not sin. I can walk as children of the light, knowing Jesus paid the price for my sin, making me holy and righteous in Him.
As we allow truth (even the hard stuff) to come out of darkness and live as children of the light, we grow in our faith, “for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth.” This was never promised to be easy. Maybe that’s why the following verse says “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” It’s a process. It doesn’t all happen over night. He doesn’t leave us alone, He lights the path. We don’t have to be fearful of the truth. The light helps us to discern where our feelings line up to truth and when they are believing the lies of the enemy.
My pastor always says, “For every truth there is a balancing truth.” The truth is not that the past is just in the past. It is a part of us. But the balancing truth is we are not defined by our past. I am a birthmom, fact and the truth. But my identity is in Christ, so I can be birthmom or mom. It doesn’t really matter, because there is no shame. (Even though sometimes I hear the evil one shouting words of shame over me). I know that God has given me the honor to be any kind of mother He is calling me to be so a name is just a name. I can look at the truth-all of it-even the hard, because of His light. He gives us direction and guidance in His word through the Holy Spirit.
“And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret, but all things come visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.
’Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”Ephesians 5:11-16
I can see the truth and maybe decide it wasn’t fair. I can even through memories of trauma decide I am a victim and just camp out there. I can see the hurt in the life of my daughter and even my husband and other children and take that guilt and just let it hang over me as a punishment. That’s where I think God is telling me “be careful how you walk” and “so then do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is.”
So much in Ephesians! Who God is, who I am in Christ and direction on how to live according to His will. It’s no wonder I have spent so much time in this book throughout my life. As I work through Ephesians again, as I work through my past, I pray I do so with a heart of thanksgiving. I pray I’ll be willing to see and speak truth as God shines His light on me. I do want to live my life learning what is pleasing to the Lord.
…to the praise of the glory of His grace…Ephesians 1:6
kp Jan 2021