Nip it! Nip it in the Bud!
Read: Ephesians 5:1-10; Ephesians 5:15-20
Happy first day of spring. Even the tomato seeds my husband planted a week ago are celebrating. They have all emerged in order to welcome the new season. Maybe thinking about these new tiny plants made me think of a plant from long ago that didn't live for more than a few weeks. May I explain?
It was before I was married, and I had a new Purple Passion Plant. So pretty with its velvety purple hairs growing on the green leaves. For a reason I can no longer remember, a friend had been caring for my new plant. When I again saw the plant, it was wilted and, it seemed to be beyond help. Sure enough, it was dead. I thought perhaps it had been over watered. I surely wasn't upset with my friend though since I wasn't and still am not good with plants. Thinking about that long ago incident made me look up Purple Passion Plants just in case I might like to try again. I learned that they don't like any water on their leaves. In fact, the article stated that they will develop permanent black spots if this occurs. Yet, they thrive in humidity and love the light. All of these facts made sense to me since Purple Passions are native to Indonesia and are tropical; however, one other fact about these unique plants gave me pause. In the spring, Purple Passion Plants produce flower buds. That sounds good, but there is a fly in the ointment. The article stated that the flowers are an ugly orange color and that they stink. This should not be. Should a beautiful velvety soft plant produce ugly smelly flowers? The solution? Nip them right when they appear. Nip them in the bud so the beauty of the plant won't be marred.
In John 15, those of us who belong to Jesus are reminded that we are fruit bearing branches who are connected to and nourished by the Lord. It is His desire that we bear much fruit, John 15:16. To that end Ephesians 5:1-2 tells us to imitate Jesus and walk in love; however, the next verses in Ephesians 5 warn us that how we live and act can be as out of place as ugly stinky flowers on a lovely plant. There are qualities that don't belong in our lives.
1. There is no place for immorality. We serve a faithful God Who is holy; therefore, if impurity in any of its forms begins to pop up in our lives, we need to by the power of the Holy Spirit, uproot it. Ephesians 5:8 reminds us that we are children of the Light, having been transferred into His kingdom, Colossians 1:13-14. This kingdom is filled with goodness, righteousness and truth, Ephesians 5:9. Therefore, darkness in any of its forms has no place in our lives.
2. There is no place for crude speaking of any kind. Paul gives the way to nip this kind of talk in the bud. Thankfulness. Again, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, we can change our speech as God changes our thinking. In Ephesians 5:18-20, Paul reminds us to be continually controlled by the Holy Spirit. As we yield to Him, step by step, we will grow to look and sound more and more like the Lord Who has rescued us. There will be less and less speech that has corruption of any kind, Ephesians 4:29.
3. There is no place for idolatry. Paul points out that idolatry is something that when we see it in our lives, we should get rid of it quickly. Paul calls it greed. Desiring something more than we desire God and His best for our lives. It is easy to forget that He is the One Who has promised that He would not withhold anything from us that is good, Psalm 84:11. We live in a world where we are bombarded with the knowledge of what others have. Disappointment with what we have can pop up when we least expect it. I remember a day when disappointment was trying to take root in my life. I could feel it trying to get a stranglehold on me. Bitterness wanted to get a foothold too. By God's grace and only with His enabling, I chose to thank the One Who gives good gifts, James 1:17 for what He had given someone else and not me. I can't overemphasize the sweet peace God gave me when I yielded to His Spirit. I was serene, and I was able to avoid the rotten stench that was at my door that day.
I love the fact that Ephesians 5:10 reminds us that we can discover what pleases God. Since we belong to Him, we know that we already are securely loved by Him. Yet, because we know that we are loved we have the desire to bring God pleasure. What parent who loves his child doesn't smile with joy when his son does what is good? How wondrous it is that God not only tells us what pleases Him but also enables us to do it.
Lord, Help us to allow Your Word to show us what needs to be cut away so that Your beauty will be on display.