We are part of the same body. Stop lying and start telling each other the truth. Don’t get so angry that you sin. Don’t go to bed angry and don’t give the devil a chance.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Be honest and work hard, so you will have something to give to people in need.
Stop all your dirty talk. Say the right thing at the right time and help others by what you say.
Don’t make God’s Spirit sad. The Spirit makes you sure that someday you will be free from your sins.
Stop being bitter and angry and mad at others. Don’t yell at one another or curse each other or ever be rude. Instead, be kind and merciful, and forgive others, just as God forgave you because of Christ. (Contemporary English Version)
New life means being a part of a new society; and a new society means new rules to live by which benefit and uplift the entire community. Old destructive practices must be replaced with new encouraging and supportive ways of being together. Stop taking the broad easy road to destruction and start walking the hard path to life and contentment.
Stop Lying and Start Telling the Truth
Lying exists because people believe that being truthful and transparent is too traumatic. Many people don’t think that being open, honest, real, vulnerable, and genuine is worth the risk. They have believed the lie that they won’t be accepted, that they’ll lose face with others, or that people will just gossip about me if they really knew about me. So, we hide from others and avoid the truth.
In truth, we are responsible for one another – to make and keep promises to each other because that is what God does with us. Churches that love truth will make a safe place for the awkwardness of confession, forgiveness, and healing.
Truthful communities are places of hospitality where we are safe to be real. No one ought to ever suffer in silence, cry alone, or wonder whether others will forsake them. We belong to one another. Therefore, to have union with Christ is to have union with one another; you can’t have one without the other.
Stop Stealing and Start Giving
Theft comes in many forms, especially in our contemporary age. Embezzlement, shoplifting, fraud, plagiarism, and robbery are just a few examples of the ways in which we humans steal from one another.
Embezzlement is the theft of assets (money or property) by a person who has been trusted to keep those assets safe. Instead of embezzling funds, we are to steward those assets well, distributing them with care and a conscience – using them for the benefit of others, not simply ourselves.
Shoplifting involves stealing goods from retail establishments. Some people steal because they are in dire need. Many more steal because they can and want to. We must stop taking things we want, and learn to be satisfied with what we have. And we will only do this by using our own money to buy things for others who are in need.
Fraud is stealing that involves convincing the victim to surrender their money or property under false pretenses. This is nothing more than manipulating someone to get what you want. Work hard to defend the defenseless and ensure their justice, rather than commit a gross injustice against them.
Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else’s work or ideas and passing them off as one’s own. It’s cheap. It’s easy. And don’t do it, period. Someone else worked very hard to create what you may nonchalantly use for your quick benefit. Take the pains to credit someone else’s work and document the sources you use.
Robbery is a theft that involves using violence, intimidation, or threats to obtain property. Put the threats, guns, and false confidence away. In it’s place, do whatever it takes to do things right, hold a job, and give something back to society.
Stop All the Unhelpful Talk and Start Encouraging
Corrupt or dirty talk is totally unnecessary. It’s unwholesome and benefits nobody. Rather, make it your aim to use your words for good by encouraging others.
Encouragement involves strongly urging someone to do something with an equal commitment to lovingly come alongside and help. This requires both verbal exhortations and tangible assistance. Encouragement is the glue which holds a people together. Without it, a society degenerates into watching-out-for-number-one, and destructive personal survival tactics which will say anything to get what one wants.
Stop the Bitterness and Start Forgiving
Forgiveness is choosing not to hold another’s persons offensive words or actions over their head. It is:
- Specific to an event, action, or words.
- A process: it takes time to truly forgive.
- Something anybody can do, regardless of race, creed, religion, etc.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”Lewis Smedes, Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don’t Deserve
Bitterness, however, wants to hold onto a grudge and seeks to punish the one who has offended them. That’s the way of Satan, not God. Even if the person has set themselves up as your enemy, we have clear exhortations from Jesus to love our enemies and do good to them, not harm. (Matthew 5:43-48)
The world revolves on the axis of mercy, not judgment. The sooner we get in the groove of how things actually operate for us to live a good life, the better that our relationships and society will be.
Good and gracious God, we ask that you make our life journey safe as we choose integrity, not disintegration. Shed light on those who follow crooked paths. May their dishonesty be exposed so that corrections can be made before further damage occurs. Help our nations, neighborhoods, and faith communities choose a path of mercy and goodness, rather than the crooked way of lies, theft, vitriol, and grudge-bearing. May we see a new wave of integrity sweeping over our world, through Jesus Christ our Lord, by the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.