August 22 - Ephesians 5:3-7

Thursday, August 22, 2013

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.  Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

It really has never occurred to me that the opposite of obscenities or coarse jokes is thanksgiving, but Paul’s words to the Ephesians clearly tell us that one should be replaced with the other.

I told you the other day about the list of sins I kept as I reflected on my days. My only purpose was to make myself better each day.  On the other side of the coin, though, I made sure that each day I wrote down a list of things I was thankful for.  I found an old sermon of my mother’s and she spoke of the thanksgiving list I wrote – in comparison to her own mother’s list of faults that she kept on everyone she met. My grandmother’s diaries and calendars were filled with anger and bad feelings.

My father received a call one night from a parishioner who rarely attended church, but he was at the end of his rope. Everything seemed to be falling apart for him.  He was far from home on a business trip and called to tell Dad that he was planning to commit suicide and he wanted someone to know and would Dad break the news to his family.

Dad’s response was to ask the man to wait and to do one thing.  He asked the man to sit down with a pen and paper and write out ten things he was thankful for and to call him back the next day.  That process went on for about a week and one day this man showed up in Dad’s office, hugged him and told him that he had saved his life.

He returned to his family and began a new life, one filled with thanksgiving and gratitude instead of selfishness and misery.

Let thanksgiving replace the ugliness in your life.