30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
As Paul closes up this section on how to act in contrast to how we used to act, he sums up in verse 30 what he has been trying to say, do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. We talk about our lives as Christians being that of a spiritual war. The battle inside us rages on. When we sin, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our wrong doing. This conviction is the grieving that Paul is talking about. Those who are not saved are left ignorant to this feeling. This is what Jesus meant by sending a counselor or guide to us. It is His Spirit within us that guides us to do right or wrong. Certainly we still have the choice of doing whatever we want, however when we sin, it grieves our spirit. What he is saying here is be careful not to sin. We know better. Of course, we are still only human and we will do it…and we will know when we do it.
Verse 31 is interesting in that at first glance, it doesn’t seem like this totally encompasses the full capacity of sin. However, as we have seen previously, it isn’t about what we do, but our motivation behind it. If our hearts are filled with even one of these things, we will be more inclined to sin. You could be sitting here now thinking “I don’t feel any of those things.” Really? Someone never wronged you in the past that you kinda “forgot” about? Are there events in your life that you just had to “get over”? Maybe your parents never got you that Red Ryder you always asked about. Maybe there is something YOU did that you haven’t forgiven yourself for.
I have found in working through Celebrate Recovery that there is always something else you can dig up that you need to deal with. Sometimes it jumps right out in our face, sometimes it’s tucked away somewhere deep in your soul that you don’t even know where or what it is.
Certainly, we should strive to emulate verse 32. As we continue to work on being forgiving, tender hearted and kind, we will find that the rest of the junk in our lives will fall away. God will present us with the “unfinished business” of our lives so we can deal with it in a Godly and appropriate way that not only heals us of those past hurts, but also that paves the way for freedom from similar events in the future.
What unfinished business do you have today? Do you have a sense of bitterness over something? Are you holding tight to wrath, anger, and clamor against someone, trying to make them feel the pain that you feel? Do you slander others in an attempt to bring them “to your level”? Is your heart filled with malice towards someone else so they can suffer the way you have so they can “really know” what it feels like? Do you punish yourself for things you have done in the past? Remember: God in Christ has forgiven you.