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Sermon Helps

Ephesians 4:25–32 (NIV) 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

2 Corinthians 8:1–9 (NIV) 1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

Ephesians 5:15–21 (NIV) 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

How you use time and money in your human relationships says much about your relationship with God. Because God is committed to glorifying himself, he sent his Son to redeem his creation. And at the top of the list of what he intends to redeem are people. He lavishes his resources on us so that we might participate in his kingdom work and dwell with him forever when he brings it to completion. Are your priorities in line with God’s? Do you invest in the things he does? Do other people share in God’s blessings to you, or do you hoard them all for yourself? We are called to love God and use his blessings to love others. But sadly, we often use other people to get the things we love.
When I got married, I did what every other groom does. I repeated vows to my wife that said I would love her sacrificially all the days of my life. Who was I kidding? I look back and see how little I understood what I promised. What I was really thinking, to a large degree, was, This is great! I love me and now you are going to love me! My love was very shallow. It only took a few days of marriage to figure that out! God had plans to use my wife and children to show me just how shallow my love was and to help it deepen as I saw how much I needed to grow. Seeing this caused me to depend on God and his grace all the more. There is not a day that passes that I don’t struggle with the way I use my time and money with my family. And these are people I say I love! I struggle to hold my time loosely when I don’t want to be disturbed. I find myself flinching when one of my children asks me for a few dollars to go out with friends. These daily reminders reveal a heart still in need of a major overhaul. The only thing capable of penetrating the hardness of my heart is the gracious redemption that Father, Son, and Spirit have accomplished on my behalf. If my heart is going to be changed, it has to remain immersed in that grace. – Tripp/Lane

Bibliography:
Lane, Timothy S., and Paul David Tripp. Relationships: a Mess Worth Making. New Growth Press, 2006.
Easley, Kendell H., and Christopher W. Morgan. The Community of Jesus: a Theology of the Church. B & H Academic, 2013.