“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”. Ephesians 4:30-32
Even as believers we have difficulties getting along with each other. Note that Paul begins with our relationship with God, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit”; the key to getting along with each other is our connection with God. Only if we are in a rightly aligned relationship to our Creator can we begin to make our relationships with each other work in peace, this is only made possible through God’s Spirit living in us and conforming us to be like Jesus.
“There are those who irritate us, and whose personalities clash with ours. There are those who constantly sabotage our plans, either by their thoughtless actions or by their deliberate destructiveness. The place to begin solving our troubled human relationships is not with other people but with our relationship to God. Our relationship with our brother or sister will inevitably reflect our relationship to God. It always does”.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory”. Ephesians 1:13-14
Each one of us received the Holy Spirit, God’s living presence in us when we accepted Jesus as our Savior. At that moment we were given a protective seal for our life, through struggles and difficulties, we are kept safe by the Holy Spirit until Christ’s return.
“The seal of the Holy Spirit is not something you feel. Rather, the Spirit takes up quiet residence within you at the moment you commit your faith and trust to Jesus Christ. When the Spirit takes up residence within you, He does so permanently. He has promised that, even if you grieve and offend Him, He will not leave you—even though you might think He has, because your guilt-stricken conscience will tell you that a wall of silence has gone up between you and the Spirit within you. The Spirit will never leave you, but if you grieve the Spirit, you will have to live with a grieved Spirit within you”.
Paul gives us a clear list of things that grieve God, “bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice”. “Bitterness is a hard, cynical outlook toward life and toward other people. Rage is a hotheaded, explosive passion we refuse to restrain. Anger is a boiling inner desire to punish others and take revenge in your own hands. Brawling is a loud, confrontational attitude toward others, an eagerness to get in someone’s face and intimidate them. Slander is speech that injures others—a crafty, subtle rumor-mongering that destroys reputations. Malice is malignity—a dark, brooding hunger for seeing others hurt. We may rationalize these feelings as justifiable because of what someone has done to us, but these sins are destructive to ourselves and others. They bring grief and sorrow to the Holy Spirit within us”.
So how are we to handle these evils around us and especially in our own lives? We are to deal with our own sins first, to the evil attitudes in our actions and our inner thoughts. Then we are to forgive others, even those who have wronged us horribly. We forgive because Christ has forgiven us, that is where we begin to counter the evils in our life and in our culture.
“We are not here, either as a collective church or as individual Christians, primarily to make the world a better place to live in. Instead, we are to be better people in a terrible world—and as a by-product of becoming the kind of people God wants us to be, we will make the world a better place. And we have been given the secret that makes us the kind of people God wants us to be. Paul states the great secret of Christian living in the next two verses: ‘Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God’”. Ephesians 5:1-2
Lynda found this graphic that accurately described your discussion about how to forgive when it is so hard to do so.
Forgive, Love and Live!