"But that is not the way you learned Christ!" Ephesians 4:20

What You Leave Out Is Just As Important As What You Put In

Sunday Scripture

Captain Zsakhiem James has served on the police department in Camden, New Jersey for twenty-eight years. He laments the poor judgment and use of force that resulted in the death of George Floyd, and in an interview with World Magazine, he shared that “Camden’s use of force policy has as its foundation ‘sanctity of life.” Of the Floyd incident, James said, “No one trains that way.”

Certainly not, but when use of force becomes routine and life becomes cheap, training fades from memory. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul wrote a short sentence that mirrors this caution:

But that is not the way you learned Christ!”

Ephesians 4:20

It seems to me as if he is saying, “No Christian trains that way!” In an uncharacteristic nod to the negative, Paul listed some of the ways in which his Gentile converts were persevering in their old ways. After all, they were newcomers to the way of righteousness, mired in a culture of impoverished values and casual immorality–not unlike us today!

While we never want to be defined by what we aren’t, it is also true that artists are aware that what they are leaving out of their work is just as important as what they are putting into it. Known as “negative space,” it leaves room to see, eliminates clutter, and emphasizes the main message of the work.

Defined by God’s positives, I want to leave behind my old ways, to focus on the way I have “learned Christ,” and to trust in the training that Scripture provides with the goal of maturity measured by right responses–even under pressure.

Lord, we need your help in this process of growing up and growing on “to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” That’s a tall order, and so often we act without thinking. Protect our hearts and our minds from evil and from the easy downward path toward bad habits. May no one ever look at our lives and say, “No one trains that way. That is not the way of Christ.” Thank you that you are faithful; you have called us, and you will do it. Amen.

Under the mercy,

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Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

39 thoughts on “What You Leave Out Is Just As Important As What You Put In”

  1. I love your words this week. I have the verse…whatsoever things are…hanging on my fridge. If what I am doing or saying isn’t in those verses than I know I need to change. I wish the rest of the world would do this as well.

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    1. I am afraid that so much of what EVERYONE does and says right now is from the gut, unfiltered, and marinated in fear. Having a filter always before your eyes like that is a good practice.
      Praying for you and your sister. My heart aches for you right now.

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  2. For months now our church has been on a journey to discover what it means to be a mature, “full measure” believer. I think growing up is mandatory in order to thrive in the times ahead.

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  3. “to trust in the training that Scripture provides with the goal of maturity measured by right responses–even under pressure.” I have so far to go….This line your wrote will positively impact my walk with Christ. Thank you!

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    1. That’s my goal whenever and wherever I write, so your words are a gift to me.
      Blessings to you as you trust for maturity and an ever growing practice of right responses.

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  4. It’s sort of a funny coincidence that my photography assignment this week is negative space. And you are so right that it’s just as important what we leave out as to what we put in.

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  5. I think a lot about negative space in regards to how God works in the world. I love your thoughts on the topic: “it leaves room to see, eliminates clutter, and emphasizes the main message of the work.” Thank you for your help in my search for the main message of Christ. We do need to train so that the Christian way is our default response under pressure.

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  6. Both what we add in and what we take out of our lives needs to be measured by our learning of Christ. No matter long we’ve been walking with Him, we still have a long way to go. We need to keep measuring everything by His measure. Hopefully my responses under pressure will become more intrinsically like His and less something I have to work through to reflect Him.

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  7. Praise God we CAN trust in the training that Scripture provides. We can also depend upon God to grow our maturity, manifesting itself in right responses–even under pressure. I’ve reached a stage in life (post-retirement) when I can review the decades in my memory and see signs of that growth along the way–Hallelujah! I’m also thankful He won’t give up on me, but will continue to mold me into the likeness of His Son until my last breath. He IS faithful and He WILL do it. The path ahead will become straighter yet! Thank you, Michele, for the encouragement.

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  8. Wow, there is so much to ponder here, Michele. The idea of negative space . . . I find it too easy to clutter up my life so that there is sometimes no room for God to move and help me see in that negative space. And the idea of God defining us, yes.

    When I remember that He is the one who created me and ultimately defines me, like you, it makes me want to leave behind my old ways to learn and live in Jesus’ life-giving ways. Beautiful words here, my friend!

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  9. Wise and timely words on the importance of spiritual growth. Sometimes I wonder if people assume saved means stay exactly as you are, don’t expect or try to grow. Shared on my FB page. Michele Somerville, The Beach Girl Chronicles

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  10. The right response under pressure – and that’s the crux of it, under pressure reveals our instinctive reaction…..thank God for the transforming power of His word, to change us from within and thank you for your prayer!

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  11. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn
    ********************************************************

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  12. Training is only as good as it’s application and practice. We only learn properly through repetition and devotion. Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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