There is an old saying that “You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.” It means that life is more pleasant when people are nice, sweet-natured, and agreeable, and most living things like sweet substances and peaceful environments.   Yet, it seems that Holy Scripture was written in an era when people believed the opposite was true; that people were more motivated by negative stimuli than positive reinforcement.  That seemed to be the lessons taught, received, and used throughout human history to get people to respond in the wholesome manner desired.  Well, it seems that the effectiveness of such negative stimuli is becoming the exception and not the rule in our lifetime.

Consider the COVID-19 pandemic.  The negative threat of serious illness and even death has not motivated many folks to take the vaccinations that can prevent these things.  Sure, many because of the politicization of science are so entrenched in their opposition to taking the vaccines that nothing will change their minds.

          However, there seems to be a significant number who can be persuaded to do so.  And it seems the way to reach them is to provide positive stimuli from trusted sources by them.  We should try to become a trusted resource for those in our lives.

          At first glance, the assigned Ephesians 4:25-31, for Sunday, seems to employ negative stimuli to get us to respond in positive manner with such phrases as “in your anger do not sin … do not let the sun go down while you are angry, do not give the devil a foothold…” etc.  Perhaps the positive stimuli of verses 4:32 – 5:2 would elicit the desired results.  It says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us …” 

          Join Covenant for worship this Sunday in-person, by Zoom or Facebook livestream.  Instead of the negative stimuli of “… Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” my sermon will be “Live Pleasingly to the Holy Spirit” based on “Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2.”