By Rev. Tina Schramme, Congregational Care Pastor
29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
What we say, and how we behave matters. It mattered 2000 years ago as well. Apparently Paul, the writer of this letter, was concerned about bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander and malice, all within the church! He said, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” I imagine it like a parent who gives a particular privilege to a child, then says, “Don’t make me regret this decision.” In other words, you have been given a freedom, a privilege, a gift, so use it wisely. Paul is begging the people of this church in Ephesus to use the gift they have been given for good. The gift of new life must be taken seriously. It is not a new life one day and then done. Rather, it is choosing to live into this new life, this gift of salvation, each and every day.
In a world where there is much strife, conflict, hatred, anger, and tearing down, we must be different. We have to be people who refuse to participate in the ugliness that surrounds us. This is a daily choice, my friends. None of us is able to thwart off emotions that arise around certain topics. But, we are able to daily pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us in our reactions. We are able to get up each day expressing gratitude for the gift we have been given. Then use it wisely.
If you really struggle with this one, try this: Just keep your mouth shut. Really. If you tend to say things that you regret later, start by keeping your mouth shut when the occasion arises. The first words of Verse 29 say, “Do not let….” This hints at sheer strength of the jaw! Hold your mouth tight instead of letting negativity flow out of it. Do not let your mouth open if you feel the urge to rant or rave about a topic. It may take everything you have to do so, but you will likely never regret remaining silent in those heated moments.
God, you continually call me to live a sacrificial life, and yet I fall short. Help me to see others the way you see them. Help me to be a person who serves others with all that I am and all that I have. You gave so much for me, Lord. Thank you. Guide me to live a life that honors your gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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