Meditate on Ephesians 4:17-28
This is a message I spoke to community development staff in Uganda in November 1998.
As an evaluator I search for truth. As a facilitator I help others search for truth, accept truth, live by truth.
In searching for truth, you need to watch out for lies, especially clever lies. In the restaurant at Laston Hotel in Masaka there is a poster that says:
It’s got what you want
This poster tells a lie. A lie that is believed as true by many. Those who live by this lie cause harm and destruction to others and themselves. In my own family I have seen the harm and destruction that addiction to alcohol can cause. If this poster were to tell the truth, it might look like this:
If you want to cause harm and destruction to yourself and others,
It’s got what you want
Now hear the word of the Lord: Ephesians 4:17-28
Verse 28 describes the fundamental indicator for transformational development. The person who steals is to stop stealing. Not only that, the person is to produce useful things with his or her own hands, that he or she might share them with others. This is transformation, from stealing to gratify the self, to being productive on behalf of others.
This passage describes the key to planning development programs that are transformational, not just enhancements to living in the world. This passage describes the key to planning programs that will inspire hope for those who are in despair. It describes the key to bringing joy to those who are in very difficult circumstances. Transformational development is based on the truth as it is taught by Jesus.
To understand the truth that is in Jesus, we need to face the fact that each and every one of us in a sinner. As told in the early chapters of Genesis, we have inherited the tendency to act as if we are God rather than being a child of God. God, the omnipotent, loving Creator of all there is, was, and ever will be, allowed us the freedom to disobey, while longing deeply that we would not disobey. But we did, and so we are sinners.
The truth that is in Jesus is that God, through boundless grace, invites us as sinners to be in His presence as forgiven sinners. If we accept this invitation, if we turn our backs on the deceitful ways of the world, we can live in God’s emerging kingdom right now. Cleansed, purified, made new in attitudes of mind, free to put on a new self, free to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Free to stop stealing, free to work with our hands to make something useful so that we can share it with others. Free to turn inside out and outside in, free to say “no” to the lies all around us, free to live by the truth that is in Jesus