(based on RLCF Bible Study on March 9, 2016)
In Ephesians 5 the Bible explains that Jesus “loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her…” This supports Jesus’ own words that we looked closely at in our previous study: “For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:19
The broader truth of sanctification is that it is not just a process for our self. You have likely heard the excuse that I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. This has a bit of truth in it. Our churches don’t make us a Christian but the people inside help tremendously. Our sanctification should mirror Jesus in His desire to be sanctified for the good of others, to give ourselves up for Him and our brothers and sisters.
Further along in Ephesians 5 we read that Jesus’ setting Himself apart from sin and evil led him to “nourish and cherish” the church, the members of His body. Ephesians 5:29&30. This is such a challenge. Do these two words describe my secret heart attitude toward others? Is my life so infused with truth: my thoughts, words, attitudes that it helps others grow up into maturity? Sentimentality and people pleasing won’t help anyone but truth lived and spoken in love will help others mature! To “cherish” someone means to “soften by heat, to keep warm, to cherish with tender love.” Does this describe my deeds toward others? In the deeds that I do is there a softening heat that melts the hard or angry heart. Is there warmth that helps remove the chill. Proverbs 15:30 says, “Bright eyes gladden the heart;”
What a ministry we all have! In 1 Peter 3 we read that an unbelieving husband “may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”
By contrast, (Luke 11) a Pharisee’s sanctification is characterized by weighing men down with burdens hard to bear, by disregarding the love of God and by not entering into the life they speak about. Think of the many examples in the New Testament where Pharisees had an opportunity to help someone caught in sin. So different from Jesus, who would be moved with compassion and speak the truth in love. May we also increase in our knowledge of Jesus so that we might walk in the grace and power to be a “nourisher” and “cherisher”.
Those closest to us will see that we are not yet perfect. It is so important for us to walk alongside our loved ones, not pushing them from behind or above. To admit when we have sinned, ask for forgiveness and to walk in humility and love. We talked about our walking in humility being of utmost importance to keep our children from becoming bitter because Dad is a hypocrite. And when Jesus speaks the truth to us so as to save us how do we react? The Pharisees in Luke 11 “began to be very hostile” and we do the same when we stiffen our neck against His words of truth to our life.
Heavenly Father, help us to walk in humility and to become more and more of a nourisher and cherisher of Your Body in all circumstances.