Friday, 30 September 2016
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Ephesians 4:31
Paul has just stated that we are to “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.” This list is certainly given to include those things which would cause this to occur. He is admonishing us that these things will keep us from being filled with the Spirit. Instead, they are an indication of walking in a carnal way which is opposed to a Spirit-led life. The list will go on into the next chapter as well.
He begins with “bitterness.” The word “bitterness” is a good translation of the Greek. It indicates having an embittered or resentful spirit. We are to avoid this and to instead let go of those things which well up and poison our inner selves.
“Wrath” is a word which signifies “getting heated up” or “breathing violently.” It is a “passion-driven behavior, i.e. actions emerging out of strong impulses (intense emotion)” (HELPS Word Studies).
“Anger” comes from a word indicating “to swell.” It “proceeds from an internal disposition which steadfastly opposes someone or something based on extended personal exposure, i.e. solidifying what the beholder considers wrong (unjust, evil)” (HELPS Word Studies).
“Clamor” signifies loud wailing which is exhibited with great emotion; screaming or shrieking. It would even go to wailing in non-human sounds as if possessed by a demon. Just imagine the crazy person at Walmart who yells incoherently at the checkout counter because there aren’t three candy bars of the same type on hand.
“Evil speaking” is the Greek word blasphémia. It indicates abusive language, and thus blasphemy. It “‘switches’ right for wrong (wrong for right), i.e. calls what God disapproves, ‘right’ which “exchanges the truth of God for a lie” (HELPS Word Studies).
Paul notes that these things are to “be put away.” We are to not act in such a manner as described by these malignant attitudes. And further, he says that includes “all malice.” In other words, “malice” describes the underlying attitude of evil. It is inherent evil which is present, even if it is not seen in an outward expression. Those evil things which we harbor, even inside, need to be quenched as we walk in newness of life in the Spirit.
Life application: Imagine that someone is filming you as you have a violent outburst described in the above words. How would you feel if it was presented to the world? The Lord is there, seeing all we do. And therefore, how much more should we want to not act in such inappropriate ways.
Lord God, Your word asks us to refrain from outward demonstrations of vulgarity and outlandish displays of anger, wrath, and bitterness. We are implored instead to walk in newness of life in the Spirit, and to be pleasing representatives of You at all times. Help us to keep our fits of rage quenched, and to rely on Your calming Spirit always. May we never act in a way which would bring discredit on the title “Christian” that we bear. Help us in this, O Lord. Amen.