Life is a Teachable Moment

“Ephesians 4:29-5:2”

        29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.

Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.


  1. I want to summarize where we are today.
  2. We are in the fifth week of exploring the Epistle of Ephesians – Paul’s letter to the small church in Ephesus (modern day Turkey)
  3. When we began studying the Epistle of Ephesians, in the first chapter we discovered that we were chosen by God even before God created the world.
    1. And at the same time, the plan for our life with Christ was set into motion.
  4. God’s plan included the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit’s presence gives us the ability to work to say no to sin’s temptation. 
    1. Also, God’s indwelling in us is the sign of our being a part of the family of God, which is evidenced by the fruit of the Spirit which we read last week from Galatians.
  5.  Two weeks ago, we read of Paul praying for the church, that each member would be strengthened through God’s Spirit in us,
    1. that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith;
    1. that each of us would be rooted and grounded in love,
    1. that we may be able to comprehend with all the saints the width and length and depth and height of the love of Christ which passes knowledge and that we may be filled with all the fullness of God.
  6. Last week we came to the fourth chapter, a turning point in the epistle.
  7. The first three chapters of Ephesians contain the theology— which means the explaining of what God has done for us.
  8. Now, in Chapter 4 we come to the daily living portion that tells us how to respond to God’s magnificent love which He has bestowed upon us. 
  9. This is where a lot of people start – the “how we should live” portion of the Bible. 
  10. The reason for Paul’s prayer in the last chapter is to get us started on the right foot.
    1. When you first realize that we were adopted into God’s family, elected before the foundation of the world, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and sealed with the Holy Spirit—, then the living part makes sense.
    1. Without understanding the first three chapters, then all you have is a bunch of rules and regulations. 
  11. That’s why some people come to church for a little while and then drop out, or why they never come in the first place. 
    1. All they see is a bunch of rules.
    1. You can’t make God love you any more by obeying a bunch of rules.
  12. Our Christian walk is not something we do to try to earn God’s favor or merit God’s love.
    1. Rather, it is our response as to how God loves us, what He’s done for us, and how good He’s already been to us.  
  13. We read a portion of last week’s scripture this morning, but will read more of it and a part of chapter 5,
    1. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.
    1. 5 Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. 2 Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.
  14. I am going to focus on these several short verses and look to them to help formulate in our thinking this morning that “Life is a Teachable Moment.”
  15. First – let’s explore the term teachable moment and then see how this fits into the Paul’s words in the scripture for today.
  16. Here is an example of teachable moments as it relates to our children when they were young or to our grandchildren or great-grandchildren now.
  17. ‘Angels Unseen’ by Ron DiCianni
    1. Our children would often want to talk when we would tuck them in at night and pray together. By just listening and being close, even though we were tired, we connected with their hearts and they with ours.
    1. I tried to make mental notes of a concern they had.
    1. Sometimes it was small enough to be worked through right then and prayed over, but other times, it needed to wait until they (and I) were more rested.
    1. Often my perspective was healthier in the morning after a good night’s sleep.
    1. In later years when the size of our children’s challenges centered more on personal development and others outside the family, I continued listening.
    1. Some of our best talks/listening were late into the evening. Only if I received what they had to say calmly without rushing to conclusions, or getting angry, would they continue to want to talk.
    1. I had to grow in my reliance on the Lord because my own answers alone were never enough.
    1. I needed to stay in the Word so I could have direction when those teachable moments or questions came.
    1. More of Jesus and less of me!
  18. A teachable moment is a point of grace. 
    1. It occurs in a particular circumstance, frequently mundane, when God gives us a personal Word.
    1. The Holy Spirit is there – in the circumstance.
  19. Teachable moments can be so offhanded and seemingly random, we miss them.  The passages in the Bible are good examples for us.
  20. We find fascinating things when we begin to look for them in the Bible. That same findings are true when we open old shoe boxes that have been closed for so long and discover love letters and it is true when we open the Bible.
    1. The Bible also contains letters. I’ve heard it said that we can read the Bible like a newspaper, and we can read the Bible like a love letter.
    1. The news of the world today confounds us and makes us fearful. We want to stand apart from it.
  21. A love letter calls us into a relationship. A love letter reminds us of the past and especially of the future.
  22. That’s the spirit of Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.
    1. These letters call us to a way of life where we ask — do our words build others up?
    1. Are our words— grace to those who receive them?
    1. We put away an old life and take on a new life.
    1. We imitate God and live in love, remembering that Christ loved us and gave himself for us.
  23. Paul speaks in today’s passage about gentleness. It is sometimes translated “tenderness” or “meekness.”
    1. One of best meanings I have come across is this: gentleness is a teachable spirit.
  24. Gentleness is like a life not hardened, like that childhood baseball glove that was just found 50 years later that is stiff and inflexible.
    1. Gentleness is a life still being shaped and molded, like clay in the hands of a potter.
  25. One sign that the Holy Spirit is growing in our lives is an emerging basic quality of gentleness, of humility, a teachable spirit.
    1. We have something to learn.
    1. We are open to receiving.
    1. This is a sign that God is present in our lives because this is consistent with the very nature of God.
    1. This is the way God comes to us—in humility, in weakness, in vulnerability.
    1. Any relationship of love requires that we open ourselves to all kinds of things: love and joy, pain and suffering, delight and laughter, despair and tears.
  26. It would be easy to shut all of that out, to say, “I don’t need God,” or, “I can figure life out on my own.”
    1. And God could overpower us.
    1. But God speaks not with thunder and lightning but in a still small voice.
    1. God comes in meekness, in gentleness, in humility.
  27. The power of God is weakness and humility. It is the core of the Gospel,
    1.  “Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
    1. And Paul goes further: “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1:25).
  28. The gentle power of God always comes to us as a gift, like a twenty-dollar bill inside an envelope, which communicates a profound truth: we are loved.
    1. We open this love letter and we are reminded that Christ loved us and gave himself for us, on a cross, the ultimate sign of weakness and humility.
  29. A teachable spirit allows the reality of God’s love to come into our lives.
    1. That changes us, and change is difficult.
    1. There is a lot about the old life we like.
      1. Maybe we like to be in control.
      1. Maybe we don’t want to appear weak.
      1. Perhaps we can’t let go of a grudge or bitterness or anger or resentment.
      1. Maybe we’ve become hardened because it was the way we learned to survive.
      1. Maybe we are disappointed with God and we’ve built up a wall, and we intellectually believe, but if we are honest, we’re not sure if we trust God.
  30. A teachable spirit is like opening the window and allowing the wind to come in and move over us. There are a number of words for what this is like: surrender, yielding, trusting.
  31. On page 607 in our hymnal, there is a power to help us surrender. Here is John Wesley’s – A Covenant Prayer –a prayer that echoes the prayer of Jesus in the garden.
    1. These are the words: “I am no longer my own, but thine. Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt; put me to doing; put me to suffering; let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low for thee; let me be full, let me be empty; let me have all things, let me have nothing; I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.”
  32. “I am no longer my own, but thine.”
    1. That is surrender.
    1. That is gentleness.
    1. That is a teachable spirit.
  33. When the spirit of gentleness is growing in our lives we care less and less about success or significance. We become living sacrifices, as Paul writes in Romans 12. We have been crucified with Christ, as Paul would later write to the Galatians, continuing, “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a).
  34. That is a teachable spirit.
  35. Thanks be to God!

[1] Ministry Matters, Ephesians