Ephesians 4:29-30 “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”
When we were children we had a saying: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
We usually quoted this little jingle when words had hurt us, and it was usually followed by sticking out our tongue for emphasis.
Somehow this ditty has been passed down through the generations, even though it is not true. Words can destroy us.
Often times, the words we regret saying are ones that escape our mouths before we give consideration to what we are saying. The words that trouble us and cause our difficulty are the careless words, the thoughtless words, the words that escape our lips that we often times want to take back but can’t. Unlike an animal that has escaped from a cage, words cannot be hunted down and returned to captivity.
A careless word can cause injury to another and if it is strong enough and finds the right person, it can be devastating.
It’s more than words that cause grief to God, it is the heart from which they originate that He also sees and grieves.
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
The Implacability of Bitterness
The resentment of bitterness is formed in the heart of the one offended. “I will never forget what you did to me”, is a common statement in those who choose to hold onto the offense.
If someone said something to us that was offensive, or did something that hurt us or someone we love, why can’t we hold that against them? Why does holding onto the anger or resentment grieve God?
What if the offender is sorry for hurting you?
Depending on the offense, the deeper the wound, the greater the justification for hatred. There are also times when the bitterness is directed toward a people or movement, this reality is ever more present in the current American political landscape.
Within the sphere of counseling, implacability shows that “no matter how often others may walk on eggshells, try to atone for perceived slights, etc., often a bitter person will continue to harbor at least some anger. Bitter people often seem, in general, impossible to “please”. This is due to the fact that the cause of their bitterness is no longer something present in the external environment; instead, it is the internalized remnant of old pain.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Bitterness grieves God because it lacks repentance.
You may ask, “what do I have to repent of, I was the one offended!”, but if you are in Christ and Christ is in you, you are not your own. The man or woman of bitterness shows hatred for another, and hatred not only separates friends and family, it drives you away from a loving God. It forms itself into self-pity, spitefulness towards others, antagonism in relationships, envy and resentment dominate the thoughts, and since the bitter person feels the victim, a lack of accountability can drive the emotions that seem to justify becoming just as ugly or more so than the one who originally offended them.
Bitterness ruins you.
If bitterness is the harboring of hatred, wrath is acting on that hatred. Defined as the retributory punishment for an offense or a crime, when wrath is left up to the person offended, they have become judge, jury, and executioner all in one.
Within the sphere of divine chastisement, God’s wrath looks different.
John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
The wrath of God comes from the root word, Orgē, which comes from the verb oragō meaning, ‘to teem, to swell‘; and thus implies that it is not a sudden outburst, but rather (referring to God’s) fixed, controlled, passionate feeling against sin . . . a settled indignation
The sinful man is in rebellion against God’s righteousness. It is this position as an enemy of God that places people on a track toward separation from God for eternity in Hell. This ultimate demise is not God’s desire for His Creation, He does not desire that any should perish(2 Peter 3:9) and so God’s vengeance is kept with an eye towards restoration. The restoration of God is shown in His patience with those who offend, in all wisdom with the desire to restore peace.
Listen to the wisdom of James….
James 3:13-18 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
If we are to imitate Christ in our conduct, we would walk in His wisdom and understanding. Our conduct should reflect God’s goodness and the hypocrisy of claiming to walk in His love yet inflicting wrath; this attitude should be cast far from our minds if we are to live honestly before Him.
Gentleness, peace, and mercy, are the fruits of the Spirit that are manifest in the life of a man or woman of God with all purity and love.
Anger is a feeling. Anger can either be acted upon in shame or can be directed in righteousness and honor.
Ephesians 4:26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
People will make you angry, it is a natural response toward a given situation. The shame is not in the anger, it is what we do in our anger that brings grief to God.
I suppose, if we were to be wise, we would ask ourselves why someone or something is making us angry? Am I looking at this person unjustly and taking into consideration other factors that may be contributing to their offensive nature?
I am no more immune to anger than the next guy, but I have learned to change my thinking when it comes to how I judge another person’s actions. When I sit down with those who are living on the streets and hear their stories of abuse, neglect, corruption, and sorrow, I have compassion for them. I realize very quickly after hearing their stories that I could be in their shoes if I had endured that much trauma in my life.
I begin to see others in a different light when I look past the surface of what someone projects and see the circumstances that led this person to where they are today.
Take this perspective and amplify it 10,000x’s or more and you have a little inclination as to how God sees people. His compassion and love are reflected in His knowledge of not just who they are, but in the scope of being their Creator.
Seeing others in light of how God sees them reduces anger into love and compassion.
Anger may be a feeling toward an offense, wrath may be an attempt at vengeance, but malice is all together different in nature.
Malice is the intention or desire to do evil; ill will toward another.
Want to see what your heart looks like apart from God?
Mark 7:20-23 “He continued: “What comes out of a man, that is what defiles him. For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man.”
If you are acting intentionally to do evil, you are not acting in accordance with God’s will. Evil is defiance against God’s holiness, righteousness, and Truth. You can only imagine what this type of action from one of God’s people does to Him, it’s expected from those who have not accepted Him as Lord of their lives, but from God’s people it is out of nature with God’s Spirit.
The one who desires malice towards another desires evil for another….how can the love of God abide in Him?
It doesn’t matter what you call yourself, ‘A man of God’, “A Christian’, or ‘A Believer’, your identity is only a deception to yourself and to others if malice is in your heart.
Grief is characterized by deep sorrow.
When we grieve God, we bring Him so much disappointment. He has such wonderful plans for you, such freedom, such inexpressible joy just waiting to give you.
When we act on our own selfish desires or we allow pride to dictate our paths, then we remove ourselves from God’s intended plan and divine purpose and the true nature of our hearts are left to their own purposes.
Our key response to anything offensive is Love.
- Love for God
- Love for Others
Out of the love of God comes a change of heart toward others. We may not see others as God does but we feel His love for them. When God’s love for others is embraced, the perspective we have for others begins to change as well.
We listen better, we look to others needs before we look to ourselves, and our motivation is for their salvation or for their sanctification.
Jesus changes hearts and minds. Draw near to Jesus and you start acting and thinking more like Him.
The world becomes a brighter place from this perspective.