Smelling Good

1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma (Ephesians 5).

This word “beloved” is the same word the Father used to describe Jesus when He said: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17). For Christ certainly did “walk in love” on this earth to the point that He fulfilled the Father’s will and “gave Himself up for us.” 

Paul’s point is clear: we show we are beloved of God whenever we follow His Beloved and act like Him. But it is extremely important to note—we never earn His love, we show it. For just as an “aroma” reveals what is being burned, so does our “walk” reveal what we are loving. If we are loving ourselves and the world, the aroma will not be pleasant, but if we are loving our Lord as “imitators” of Him, then the aroma will be “fragrant” indeed!

Lord, help us This Day to smell good. Amen.

Useful Instruments

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Ephesians 4).

Interestingly enough, the word for “kind” (“chrēstós”) is just one letter from the word for “Christ” (“Christós”). It literally means “useful,” which summarizes the rest of Paul’s command in being “tender-hearted” and “forgiving” to others. The lesson is clear: just as Christ was God’s instrument in bringing compassion and forgiveness to us, so should we be His instruments in bringing compassion and forgiveness to others.

I remember a time in my missionary experience when the missionaries were not getting along very well with one another (which is a more common occurrence than missionaries would care to admit). Not long after a new couple arrived on the field, we were reminded of this verse by the husband during a devotional. I remember it tasting like sweet water to my soul. How could we ever say we are followers of Christ if we are not trying to be “useful” like Him? How could we ever bring compassion and forgiveness to others, if we cannot even bring them to ourselves?

Lord, help us This Day to be useful instruments for Your glory. Amen.

The Sorrowing Spirit

30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4).

This is the second time in this letter (the first was in 1:13) where Paul writes of the believer being “sealed” by the Holy Spirit. The word means “to stamp (with a signet or private mark) for security or preservation” and signifies our security in salvation. Believers are like a sealed package on route to a final destination where only then will it be opened. No robber can get to it, and when it arrives the Father and Son will know of its genuineness by the perfect seal on its wrappings.

The seal is the Holy Spirit Himself, who never leaves the holy package. He is faithful to see that it arrives—even when He Himself is “grieved” and sorrowed by its sins along the way. Though the package be wet from weeping, still the grieving Messenger brings it safely home.

Lord, thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your faithfulness to us! Help us This Day not to make you cry. Amen.

Topping It Off

29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear (Ephesians 4).

The word “edification” literally means “dome of a house,” which is the final part of the structure when being built. In fact, our idiom “to top it off” even comes from this. This scripture is telling us that the best thing we can do to top off our lives, is to top off someone else’s through the words we say.

We do not speak “unwholesome” (“rotten or putrid”) words, but words that are pleasant to the ear and grace-giving to the soul. For it is pleasant words and grace-giving words that build others up instead of tearing them down.

Lord, help us This Day to top off our lives by topping off the lives of others. Amen.

Proper Motivation

28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need (Ephesians 4).

What if we all had the mindset of working—not so that we could help ourselves to more and more things, but so that we could help others with the necessities of life? Thieves steal what others have labored for; laborers should work, at least in part, for others who cannot. And we know, Jesus told us that we would always have the poor with us (Matthew 26:11), thus we should always have ample motivation for our labors. 

Anyone who wishes to put this principle into practice can begin monthly giving to Compassion International, a wonderful organization dedicated to helping children around the world to be fed, clothed, housed, and educated out of poverty. This is but one way to fulfill this verse. Countless others abound.

Lord, help us This Day to be aware of those around us whom our labors could benefit. Amen.


26 Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity …. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice (Ephesians 4).

The Bible clearly teaches here a twofold lesson on anger: 1) it is indeed possible to “be angry” and yet “not sin” however, 2) it is impossible to remain angry and not put yourself in a spiritually dangerous situation. Extended anger will eventually be joined by its companions of “bitterness and wrath … and clamor and slander … and malice.”

The word “opportunity” literally means “an inhabited place,” suggesting we give the devil living quarters in our lives whenever we continue in ungodly anger. The word also means “quarter,” as in giving the devil, who is our enemy, mercy or leniency. Why would we ever give either place or mercy to him? This is insanity! Yet, we indeed put ourselves in an extremely dangerous place whenever we are able to lay our head on a pillow and actually find rest—even with anger in our heart.

Lord, help us This Day to put away anger. Help us not to give our enemy any opportunity for abode. Amen.


25 Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another (Ephesians 4).

The word “falsehood” is the word “pseudos,” which we borrowed to describe anything that is deceptive or not genuine. For instance, a “pseudonym” is a false name chosen by an author. The word carries with it the idea of intentionality, where one purposefully tries to deceive another.

The basis for not being false with one another is that we are a body made up of body parts which need to cooperate with one another. Thus, Christians being intentionally deceptive with one another is as unnatural as a thumb pretending to be an eye.

In my experience in the business world I have discovered pseudo-believers who vie for my business on the basis of their professed Christianity: “You can trust me, I’m a Christian.” Whenever I hear these words I just walk away, for a true believer’s honesty never requires personal advocation. 

Lord, help us This Day not to act like pseudo-believers. Amen.

A Change of Clothes

22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth (Ephesians 4).

The word for “lay aside” was used to describe that time when the Jews “laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul” (Acts 7:58). The word for “put on” literally means “to sink into” and is used mostly to describe the putting on of clothes. This same word is used when Jesus told His disciples “to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

Thus, disrobing of “the old self” and donning “the new self” should be the natural daily activity of every believer. Just as we take off our pajamas worn during the darkness of night and put on clothes suited for the day—just so, must we take off our “former manner of life” and put on our “righteousness and holiness of the truth” in Christ. We must take that life which was “corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit” and exchange it for a life full of “the likeness of God” in Christ.

Lord, help us This Day to change our clothes. Amen.

Learning Christ

20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus … (Ephesians 4).

Jesus said His sheep hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:27). Lost sheep hear His voice, too, otherwise they would not be His sheep—they would be goats (Matthew 25:32-33) and would never “have heard Him” at all. Goats are never saved, sheep are.

Likewise, these sheep would never “have been taught in Him” or, as the King James Version reads, “taught by Him.” Every sheep at some point hears the Shepherd, and learns the truth He speaks—truth concerning their dire need for a Savior, and that His death and resurrection is for sinners like them.

Lord, thank You for speaking to us! Help us This Day to hear Your voice and learn more from You and about You. Amen.

Nine Nasty Marks

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness (Ephesians 4).

in his book Nine Marks of a Healthy Church, Mark Dever outlines nine characteristics common to Great Commission congregations. Here the Apostle Paul gives nine marks of unbelievers: futile thinking, darkened understanding, estranged from God, ignorant, hard-hearted, insensitive, lascivious, impure, and greedy. What a list! 

Any one of them on its own is enough to cripple a soul and keep it from following Christ. But all nine of them together? Seeing that they include every part of a person: the mind, the will, and the emotions, who in their own power has even the slightest chance of overcoming them? Certainly there is no chance apart from the grace and work of God in their lives!

Lord, thank You for Your grace and work to overcome these nine nasty marks of lostness. Help us This Day to walk in the victory of this. Amen.