You are a saint, are you living that life?  – Monday, 30th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 4:32-5:8

While we may romanticize personal transformations, follow up is often hard work. The Gentile Christians had gone through a personal conversion and the author to the Ephesians not only affirms but insists (4:17) that they not live their former lives, like the Gentiles were. Living the life that the Gentiles do, has led them to a loss of sensitivity to their conscience (4:19) abandoning their very selves in favour of impurity. This happens to the best of us when we permit our spiritual lives to spiral out of control. Then, every sin is not a sin because we, and not God, becomes the defining factor of what is and what is not a sin. But the Ephesian converts are now clothed anew in Christ(4:24) and hence the author presents them with a new set of rules for a new life. 

The text of today is preceded with very practical demands for a healthy spiritual relationship with Christ. But these are clearly demands. Verse 31 says “Put away” all that is negative; wrath, slander, anger, wrangling and malice, in order that you can be kind to another, tenderhearted and forgiving. 

Much of life is where your focus is. If someone is on your hit list, they can never be on your prayer list. So, Paul tells us how to deal with it. “Let (it) be put away from you.” The first step in that process should be prayer, because bitterness is sticky stuff that resists clean up. We need God’s help to be able to forgive our opponent and to let go of our victim-posture. We need God to heal our wounds so that we find it easier to forgive. Sadly, much of our energy is spent dissipated on negativity rather than what we could achieve if we put on the mind of Christ. 

The author to the Ephesians accepts that a change in one’s character is not a matter of waving a wishing wand. Efforts need to made and hence he says “be imitators of God.” In order to imitate one has to observe intently. Paul is asking us, “on whom have you fixed your eyes?” Paul does not say, “Think about God” or “Admire God” or “Adore God,” though those are all important Christian duties. This is a call to practical action, going beyond our inner life with God and that’s why he says be imitators.

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