Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:24
As I was writing these messages about grace, someone asked me if I had any ideas for how they could have a more grace-filled heart―a heart that would help them to appreciate others more instead of complaining, to forgive instead of holding grudges, and to love instead of being angry.
Here’s a summary of what I shared in response, taken from things I’ve learned from the book of Ephesians and other places in the Bible. I thought you might like to read them, too, as a summary of our study together:
1) Practice continual forgiveness. Forgiveness is the heart of the gospel, as Jesus forgave us even while we were still sinning against Him. It’s the heart of showing grace towards others as well. As Paul said, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). By choosing to forgive others, as God has forgiven you, you’ll be well on your way towards having a grace-filled heart.
2) Fill your mind with the things of God. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable―if anything is excellent or praiseworthy―think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). By reading God’s Word daily, memorizing verses of scripture, and meditating on what you’re reading,you’ll find that God will begin to fill your mind with His thoughts, His ideas and His point of view on whatever you’re facing. Keep filling your heart and mind with the things of God as much as possible, every day, several times throughout the day. This will pay off with huge dividends for you and for those around you, both in the short-term and in the long-term.
3) Keep asking yourself, “What Would Jesus Do?” (WWJD). This is a simple, but helpful reminder to try to think and act and speak as Jesus would. It’s not just an intellectual exercise. It’s a practical way to accomplish God’s work here on the earth. When Jesus went back to heaven, He sent His Holy Spirit to live inside us so that we could be His body―His hands, His feet, His eyes and ears and voice to those around us. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). As a believer in Christ, God wants to work through you as if Jesus Himself were doing the work―because He is!
4) Pray at all times. As Paul said to the Ephesians: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). By praying throughout the day, seeking His will and listening for His voice, you’ll be able to stay focused on what God wants at all times. It’s like walking through the day with a friend―and even better―because Jesus is a friend who knows everything! So as you walk or sit or talk or think, keep on praying and talking to God at all times. It’ll be both a joy to you and a practical help to those around you.
5) “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19). This practical reminder from James will help you you to spiritually “count to 10” before responding to others. While it doesn’t say you can’t get angry, or you can’t ever say anything with which others might disagree, it does say to wait to speak until after you have listened carefully―meaning “with care” and “fully.” When you do this, your words will simply come out better, expressing more love and grace, even when speaking things that may be hard to hear.
While having a grace-filled heart can take a lifetime, the Bible is full of practical steps that you can take right now to have an impact right away. That’s the beauty of God’s Word! It starts working as soon as you apply it to your life, and it keeps on working to the end. Put it into practice today, and may God fill you with His grace as you do.
As Paul said in his closing line to the Ephesians:
“Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love” (Ephesians 6:24).
Prayer: Father, thank You for this study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Thank You for the wisdom that You poured into him, and thank You for preserving that wisdom in this letter so that we can learn from it even 2,000 years later. Continue to give us a desire to learn all we can from Your Word, so that we can fill our hearts with Your grace, and then share it with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.