For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
I began yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion with a simple confession: I want to be fruitful. I suggested that you may have a similar yearning. As we examined Ephesians 5:8-10, we saw that fruitful living comes because we are “light in the Lord” (5:8). The more God enlightens us, the more we will bear bounteous fruit, fruit that makes a real difference.
Yesterday, we also noticed that “the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth” (5:9). This echoes what we have heard elsewhere in Ephesians. In Ephesians 2:10, for example, we have been “created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do.” In Ephesians 4:24, we have “put on a new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” In Ephesians 4:15, we are to help the body of Christ grow by “speaking the truth in love.” So the imagery of light in chapter 5 underscores what we have already learned in Ephesians: we are to be people of goodness, righteousness, and truth.
Of course these are fundamental characteristics of God. The goodness of God is revealed in the opening chapter of Genesis and is reiterated throughout Scripture (for example, Psalm 25:7; Psalm 34:8; Psalm 100:5; Psalm 107:1; Mark 10:18; 1 Peter 2:3). God’s righteousness is also a major theme of the Bible (Psalm 7:11, 17; Psalm 11:7; Psalm 33:4-5; Psalm 145:17; Jeremiah 23:6; Daniel 9:7; Romans 1:17). And, as we have just seen, in Ephesians 4:24 our new self is like God, who exemplifies “true righteousness.” Similarly, God is characterized by truth, truth that is incarnate in Jesus Christ (Psalm 33:4; Isaiah 45:19; John 1:14, 17; John 14:6). Thus, Ephesians 4:21 refers to “the truth that is in Jesus.”
Using the metaphor of light, Ephesians 5:8-10 helps us understand that God has redeemed and re-created us to be like God. Even as God is light, so we are “light in the Lord” and “children of light.” Even as God is good, righteous, and true, so we will be people of goodness, righteousness, and truth when we allow God’s light to shine in and through us.
If we stop long enough to ponder this truth, we should be astounded. We are to be like God! We who have been tarnished by evil, wrong, and falsehood have been made new in Christ so that we might be good, righteous, and true. The more we open ourselves to God, the more we soak in his reality, the more we are transformed by his brilliance, the more we will reflect God’s own character as we shine in the world. We will be like God and we will do like God, for his purposes and his glory (see Matthew 5:16).
Something to Think About:
When you think of God’s goodness, what comes to mind? In what ways are you like God with respect to goodness?
When you think of God’s righteousness, what comes to mind? In what ways are you like God with respect to righteousness?
When you think of God’s truth, what comes to mind? In what ways are you like God with respect to truth?
Something to Do:
As you go about your work today, pay attention to God’s presence with you. Where do you experience goodness, righteousness, and truth?
Gracious God, thank you for creating us in your image. We allowed this image to be tarnished by sin; thank you for saving us and renewing us in Christ, so that we might again be like you, however imperfectly.
Sometimes, Lord, I get so wrapped up in my mistakes, so overwhelmed by my sins, that I fail to remember who I am in you. Help me, I pray, to see myself as a child of light, your light. May I live so that your goodness, righteousness, and truth fill my life, flowing out from me to others. Amen.