I have this big thick pink parallel Bible that my dear husband bought me for my thirty-eighth birthday. It places the NIV translation and The Message translation side-by-side. My dear husband is not a fan of the The Message and I keep trying to explain to him that it’s written for people like me. Hard-headed people who sometimes just need a good SLAP in the face on occasion. It may not be the most literal translation of the Bible, but it certainly gets the point across loud and clear.
I opened up my big pink Bible today in search of an appropriate verse to emphasize something and landed in Ephesians. After reading through chapter 5 several times, I realized that it pretty much wrapped up my 8-step plan. I may still go back and expand on the points as God teaches me how imperfect I am. But for now, I’m gonna let The Message speak for me. For those of you following the plan, enjoy living out steps 4-8. (and remember that I’ll be struggling through them right along with you).
Ephesians 5: 1-20 (The Message)
1-2Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents (I’m quite certain that He’s a better role model than me). Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. LOVE LIKE THAT!
3-4Don’t allow love to turn into lust, setting off a downhill slide into sexual promiscuity, filthy practices, or bullying greed. Though some tongues just love the taste of gossip, those who follow Jesus have better uses for language than that. Don’t talk dirty or silly. That kind of talk doesn’t fit our style. Thanksgiving is our dialect. – (1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”)
5You can be sure that using people or religion or things just for what you can get out of them—the usual variations on idolatry—will get you nowhere, and certainly nowhere near the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of God. – mmm-hmph!
6-7Don’t let yourselves get taken in by religious smooth talk. God gets furious with people who are full of religious sales talk but want nothing to do with him. Don’t even hang around people like that. –
8-10You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it. – James 4:17 “To know the good you ought to do and to not do it, is a sin.”
11-16Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ. – Acts 20:24 “The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me- to tell people the Good News about God’s grace.”
Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!
So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!
17Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants. – This one’s easy. He just wants us to walk with Him and live a fruitful life. John 15:4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.”
18-20Don’t drink too much wine. (Don’t know about you, but I’m thankful that it says, “too much” instead of “any”.) That cheapens your life. Drink the Spirit of God, huge draughts of him. Sing hymns instead of drinking songs! Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.