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Ray's study of Ephesians: Part 2
- Ray's study of Ephesians: Part 1
Previous study: Ephesians Chapter 1:1-14
For this reason, Because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saint, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might, that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all role and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to give thanks for materials or things that make our life easy? I have an easy 10-15 minute commute to work every morning. I get on 30 Bypass about 2 minutes from my house and travel west. I go the opposite direction of traffic to work and then again on my way home in the evening. I give thanks every morning that I am not sitting in traffic. It's easy to give thanks in the morning for me.
Something else that I am thankful for is my favorite coffee mug. This Chewbacca coffee mug has been with me many years, a gift from an old friend. It has survived a trip across the Atlantic Ocean and spent more than 2 years in Kenya where I left it when I had to leave the country last summer. Over the Fall a friend was able to bring it back home to the United States and I am more than thankful to have this mug back.
But these are material things and Paul goes so much deeper than the materialistic. "I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers". Can you feel Paul's passion here? Paul is not merely offering up lip service. This is more than a simple "Hey, good to see you". Paul writes this beautiful passage to encourage the church and share not only that he prays for them, but how he prays for them. In the church world how many times have you heard someone say "I'm praying for you"? It sounds so generic and often empty, does't it? I sometimes wonder how many who utter that phrase actually are praying for me and how many are saying it because it sounds good. But Paul follows through and says what he prays for the church. In fact, in all of Paul's letters he is specific when he offers his prayers. From how he prays, we can know that he took a genuine interest in others.
In verse 15 Paul writes "for this reason...". For what reason? To understand that, we must go back to the previous passage. Paul's compassion and thankfulness is not because of any earthly reason. He gives thanks for them because he recognizes that they have been adopted by God in love. Paul's love stems from the love that God first showed. The Agape love that God poured out causes Paul to stop and be thankful because this church caught onto and accepted that love. He loves because Love itself has loved first.
Do you ever wonder what life would be like if more of us made this our default attitude towards people? To give thanks for them and love them. To pray prayers of wisdom and insight over them. To pray that the eyes of their hearts are enlightened and that they may see the HOPE that the Jesus has offered. and to do this simply because God loves.
May I offer you a challenge? Can you go this whole week leading up to Easter without complaining about a single person, and instead offering thanks for them. I can hear you saying that some people are hard to be thankful for. Don't worry, I can hear myself saying that too; I'm right there with you. But here's the beautiful truth: Paul's attitude has nothing to do with the people and everything to do with the Creator of the people. Offer thanks and show love for people, expecting nothing in return, simply because in love we have all been adopted.
"For this reason...I do not cease to give thanks for you."
© 2015 Ray Smith