Ephesians 4:30-32 ESV
“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
Guard Your Hearts
We have to guard our hearts daily against all these things. People are going to do things that will hurt us, whether they do so intentionally or not. We are going to hear about injustices and crimes which may anger us. We may be discerning of what we know are lies because we can test what is being said against the truth and we hate lies like God hates lies. But we have to be so careful that we don’t internalize these things and let them fester within us.
Especially since we live in such a wicked world, and because so much of this wicked world has infiltrated the gatherings of the church, and because so many pastors today, at least here in America, are wolves in sheep’s clothing and/or they have bought into the lies of Satan which they are spreading to their people, and because we have government heads who lie to us and who betray us the people, and a news media which lies to us, too, it can be so easy to become terribly cynical and to internalize all that we are feeling.
Yet, this doesn’t negate the reality that all these things are definitely taking place, and it is not to minimize the seriousness of the situations at all. And this certainly is not recommending that we put on blinders and just pretend that these things are not happening in our world and in the church. And this is not a call to be people of silence who do not address these issues and who do not call for justice and mercy, and who do not expose the fruitless deeds of darkness and call for repentance and obedience to our Lord.
But we can’t hold on to these things in our hearts. We have to watch that we don’t become bitter in our spirits, for that is what Satan wants. When these things arise, which they will, we have to let go of them and release them to the Lord. And then we must let him lead us in what we need to do and in what we should say, and in how we should respond to these difficult and troubled circumstances. And we need to pray for these people who have hurt us and/or who are doing all this evil, and we must forgive them all.
Put Them All Away
When and if we allow bitterness to build up in our hearts and in our spirits, and when and if we willfully and deliberately hold on to hurt feelings to where we refuse to forgive, and to where we desire to get even with our offenders, and to where we end up slandering them in return, or we end up treating them badly in return for what they did to us, or in return for what we may perceive they did to us, that grieves God’s Holy Spirit.
Not only do our thoughts, attitudes, and actions grieve God’s Holy Spirit, because we are not acting in love, but in hate, but this ends up damaging our relationships with other people, and we end up hurting ourselves, too. And if these things continue to fester within us and to take hold of our lives, they may lead to all sorts of physical problems for us, too, such as heart attacks or hypertension or stomach ulcers, although these things are not necessarily all associated with bitter spirits, though they can be.
But the point of all this is that if we do not put these things all away from us, and we willfully allow them to fester within us and to hold on to them to the point of anger and hate and resentment and bitterness, they are not only going to grieve God’s Holy Spirit, but they will hinder our walks of faith and fellowship with our Lord and with the body of Christ, and our attitudes and actions and words are bound to be reflective of what is stored up in our hearts, for the Bible tells us so (Lu 6:45; Matt 15:17-20).
And not only because it is the right thing to do, and because it is the godly thing to do, but in order to counteract any temptation toward bitterness of spirit we must do the opposite of what we may be tempted to do. We must be kind to one another, even to those who treat us badly, and even to those who do evil against us. And this isn’t something we fake, although some people do while they still hold on to the bitterness. This has to be genuine, from our hearts, out of a desire to truly love others like God loves us.
And when we put away from our lives and our hearts all these bad and evil things, and when we yield to the Holy Spirit’s control, we will naturally love others and we will be able to smile and even enjoy the company of those who have done us evil, providing, of course, that they are not in the process of doing us evil at the time. For, I am not saying we should ever take pleasure in evil. But we can genuinely love and care for even our enemies and take pleasure in doing good to them with genuine heartfelt joy.
And all this is possible because of what Jesus Christ did for us in dying on a cross for our sins so that we could die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. All this is possible because even while we were yet sinners and we were enemies of God, Jesus Christ, God the Son, died for us on that cross to free us from our slavery to sin so that we might now become slaves of God and of his righteousness and live in victory over sin in the joy of the Lord and with love for others as God loves us.
Jesus did not die for us because of our goodness. He didn’t do good for us because we were first doing good for him. And we should do likewise. We should love even our enemies, even those who do evil against us. And we should not let a bitter spirit develop within our hearts. But we must let all the pain go, and let God heal, and we must forgive, and we must pray for those who have persecuted or done evil against us and we must do good for them, in return, but “good” according to God, not according to the flesh.
[Matt 5:8-12,43-48; Matt 7:12; Lu 6:27-36; Jn 13:33-35; 1 Jn 4:7; Rom 12:9-11,14-21; Prov 24:17-20; Prov 25:21-22; 1 Co 13:1-8; 1 Co 16:14]
I Pray for Them
An Original Work / June 4, 2013
Based off John 17
“Glorify Your Son, that Your Son
May glorify our God in heav’n.
Father, You granted Him all power
And all authority over men,
That He might give eternal life
To all those whom now
You have given Him.”
“This now then is eternal life:
That they may know You,
Father, and Your Son;
That they may know the only true God,
And Jesus Christ whom the Father sent.
I have brought You the glory by
Finishing the work that You’ve given Me.”
“I have shown You to those whom
You gave to Me out of the world;
They were Yours. You gave them to Me
And they have obeyed Your words
And they accepted them. They knew
That I came from You, and they believed
With certainty, I was sent.”
“Holy Father, I pray for them by the
Power of Your name: Protect them,
So that they may be one as we are,
For they are still living in this world.
I have given them Your word;
Because of Your word, the world
Has hated them.”
“I pray they may have the full measure of
My joy now living within them.
Father, I pray You sanctify them
By Your word; truly Your word is truth.
As You sent Me into the world,
I send them to tell the world to repent.”