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And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
You don’t have to be huge and green and wear purple jeans to be a rage monster. Very few of us have ever been in a brawl since middle school and we can know slander when we hear it. At the same time, when Jesus talked about this stuff, He talked about what went on in our hearts. It is no different in this letter from Paul to Ephesus. You can hide bitterness behind a deep sigh and beat someone’s face in mentally while you smile and shake hands.
The Holy Spirit seldom speaks above a whisper in the Bible. Like a humble uncle that will sit back and watch you fish all day while inviting you to take his gentle advice, the Holy Spirit won’t force Himself into a situation where He isn’t welcome. That is an amazing part of the freedom God shares with us. If we prefer, we can walk around in bitterness and rage as long as we want. Whenever we are done, though, He is quick to fill us which love, joy, and peace to replace the bitterness.
To be compassionate and forgiving with one another requires that we are actually together. Being together through difficulties helps us to see the full picture of each other’s lives. We are then able to remind each other continually about Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. If I am constantly building you up and encouraging you in the Gospel, it’s going to be hard for me to be judging you and staying bitter.
Bret said the other night “We are not just a mutual admiration society!” As we talk to each other, we can build each other up with the Gospel. There is no harm in us evangelizing each other over and over
So don’t think about getting rid of bitterness. Don’t focus on resisting rage and anger. Instead, remind one another