Immanuel Lutheran Church

Sermon

Pentecost 17 [LWML

Living by Example

Ephesians 5:1-9

October 5, 2014

What would you think if someone you looked up to excused their bad behavior by saying, "do as I say and not as I do"? Both history and life today are filled with all kinds of people who do this very thing. Obviously, it is not impossible to give lip service to the positive while doing the very opposite.

Paul reminds his readers that we are to be imitators of Christ. Jesus certainly never told his disciples "do as I say and not as I do." Our Lord lived a life that was in every way consistent. He lived as He taught. His religious adversaries were the Pharisees. Although they claimed to be religious, their show of religion didn't live up to close scrutiny. When Jesus pointed out their hypocrisy they were more intent on killing Him than amending their lives.

Paul, a former hyper-Pharisee, repudiated his former life. He would have described many of his former associates as those who fell into the category of "do as I say and not as I do." After his encounter with the risen Christ, Paul changed his attitude and life. The rejected giving lip service to the spirit of the Law. Drawing on the example of his former life, he could write with confidence to the church gathered in Ephesus.

Ephesians 5:1-9. Be Imitators of Christ

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints; and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light(for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth).

Those practice "do as I say and not as I do" stink. Their lives are about as pleasant smelling as rotten garbage. When you come up against rotten smells, you want to plug your nose and remove yourself as far as you can from the smell. When we have to deal with people who say one thing and do another, we would rather not deal with them at all. The question is: can you trust them to do as they say? If you can't trust a person to follow through as they say, you have no trust in them for anything.

Now, turns things around. If you look at your life, how are do doing in living the Christian life? Are your words and actions consistent or do you fall into the "do as I say not as I do" category? How does your life reflect your witness of Jesus Christ? As you look into the mirror, you realize that the mirror is not always your friend. The mirror of the Law is no friend to us. It constantly shows us our sin.

So, now what? Our hope is not found in the inconsistencies of our lives. You know it's impossible to live a perfect life where thoughts, words and actions live in complete harmony with one another. The good news is that we know how prone we are to not doing as we say. This knowledge helps us to monitor our lives so our speech and actions are more similar than not.

Today is LWML Sunday. The members of the LWML seek to live as imitators of Christ. They know they are not perfect. They know there are times when they fall into the trap of "do as I say." Because of that, they know their need of a Savior. They know that with the Lord there is forgiveness and restoration.

Today's epistle reading is a gentle reminder to all of us that we continue to strive to become imitators of Christ. As imitators of Christ, we walk in the light of Christ. Jesus was always and fully consistent. He did as He said. Yet, He is more than a role model we should be encouraged to copy. Sadly, that's how most of the world sees Him. But, if He is merely a role model, how do you explain the cross? If Jesus is a perfect role model to be emulated in life, how many of these same people are willing to follow His example be also dying an agonizing death on the cross? It hasn't happened yet.

Yes, Jesus is a role model. Yes, we are encouraged to be imitators of Christ in our speech and in our actions. But, Jesus is much more than our role model. He is the Savior. His death on the cross isn't one that we're supposed to either envy or even copy. Your death on a cross would avail nothing. Jesus went to the cross for a purpose. He sacrificed His perfect life on the cross for sinful mankind.

When we talk about being imitators of Christ, it is with the full understanding of our sinfulness. We can never be perfect in our thoughts, words or actions. There will never be a perfect harmony in our talk and actions. People will always be able to point out examples of our hypocrisy. That's life.

The good news is that we have help. The Holy Spirit comes to help us become the kind of people the Lord has called us to be. He leads us to confess our failures in order to help us move forward in sanctification. He opens our eyes to see others as Jesus sees them. When we see the world through the eyes of Jesus, we see the great needs of others, both spiritual and material. Then, the Spirit leads us to respond as does Jesus in compassion and mercy.

The LWML responds to this mercy with their mite projects. These projects reflect the mercy of Christ by meeting human needs, both material and spiritual. In small ways, these Christian women make a big impact. The Pharisees would have sneered at the widow's mite but her gift touched Jesus. Her offering was given out of her need rather than the surplus of riches. She truly was one who was an imitator of Christ.

By the grace of God, we pray that we also will reflect the mercy of Christ in our lives. As we strive to be imitators of Christ, He enables us to harmonize our thoughts, words and actions. Our lives will not be deceptive, filled with hypocrisy. With the help of the Holy Spirit we will be imitators of Christ. He comes to us in the sacrament today to give Himself to give us both the strength and the desire to be His instruments of mercy to a hurting world. With His help we will more and more live as people who do as they say. Amen.


September
09/24/2017
09/17/2017
09/10/2017
09/03/2017
August
08/27/2017
08/20/2017
08/13/2017
08/06/2017
July
07/30/2017
07/23/2017
07/16/2017
07/09/2017
June
06/25/2017
06/18/2017
06/11/2017
06/04/2017
May
05/21/2017
05/14/2017
05/07/2017
April
04/23/2017
04/16/2017
04/09/2017
04/02/2017
March
03/26/2017
03/19/2017
03/12/2017
03/05/2017
February
02/26/2017
02/05/2017
January
01/29/2017
01/22/2017
01/15/2017
01/08/2017
01/01/2017

December
12/25/2016
12/18/2016
12/11/2016
12/04/2016
November
11/27/2016
11/20/2016
11/13/2016
11/06/2016
October
10/30/2016
10/23/2016
10/16/2016
10/09/2016
10/02/2016
September
09/25/2016
09/18/2016
09/11/2016
09/04/2016
August
08/28/2016
08/21/2016
July
07/31/2016
07/24/2016
07/17/2016
07/03/2016
June
06/26/2016
06/19/2016
06/05/2016
May
05/29/2016
05/22/2016
05/15/2016
05/08/2016
05/01/2016
April
04/17/2016
04/10/2016
04/03/2016
March
03/27/2016
03/20/2016
03/13/2016
03/06/2016
February
02/28/2016
02/21/2016
02/17/2016
02/14/2016
02/07/2016
January
01/31/2016
01/24/2016
01/03/2016
01/01/2016

December
12/27/2015
12/20/2015
12/13/2015
12/06/2015
November
11/22/2015
11/15/2015
11/08/2015
11/01/2015
October
10/25/2015
10/18/2015
10/11/2015
10/04/2015
September
09/27/2015
09/20/2015
09/13/2015
09/06/2015
August
08/30/2015
08/23/2015
08/16/2015
08/09/2015
08/02/2015
July
07/26/2015
07/19/2015
07/12/2015
07/05/2015
June
06/28/2015
06/21/2015
06/14/2015
06/07/2015
May
05/31/2015
05/24/2015
05/17/2015
05/10/2015
April
04/19/2015
04/12/2015
04/12/2015
04/05/2015
March
03/29/2015
03/22/2015
03/15/2015
03/08/2015
February
02/15/2015
02/15/2015
02/08/2015
02/01/2015
January
01/25/2015
01/25/2015
01/18/2015
01/11/2015
01/04/2015

December
12/28/2014
12/21/2014
12/14/2014
12/07/2014
November
11/23/2014
11/16/2014
11/09/2014
11/02/2014
October
10/12/2014
10/05/2014
September
09/28/2014
09/21/2014
09/14/2014
09/07/2014
August
08/31/2014
08/24/2014
08/17/2014
08/10/2014
08/03/2014
July
07/27/2014
07/20/2014
07/13/2014
07/06/2014
June
06/29/2014
06/22/2014
06/15/2014
06/08/2014
06/01/2014
May
05/11/2014
April
04/27/2014
04/20/2014
04/13/2014
04/06/2014
March
03/30/2014
03/23/2014
03/16/2014
03/02/2014
February
02/02/2014
January
01/26/2014
01/19/2014
01/12/2014
01/05/2014