Verse of the Day Devotion: Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Now, as Paul wraps up this section of Ephesians, he again speaks on how we are to treat each other. And this comes after the verse that speaks of grieving the Holy Spirit. Hence, this speaks regarding things that would be considered as grieving Him. When we look at this verse, we see what Paul apparently sees as a major problem regarding actions of Christians, that being how we treat each other.
Let us look at these items mentioned by Paul. He first speaks of bitterness. There are several ways to look at this however, I will look at one which falls perfectly in what Paul is speaking about. First, when someone is angry and unhappy because they cannot forget a bad thing that happened in the past. As an example, feeling bitter toward someone in your school who won an award you really wanted and felt you deserved over the other person. Bitterness occurs when we are either unable or unwilling to forget something we deem wrong. We must put all things negative away and not think about them anymore. Paul writes to the Church at Philippi what we are to think about. “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8. As you can see, bitterness is not included in this list.
Next is wrath. This has the idea of passionate anger which lasts for a period of time which is opposed to being tender-heartedness toward the person we have wrath against. Anger is similar to wrath but is more of a lasting resentment. There is really nothing positive that comes from this. In fact, a writer of Psalms says the following, “Cease from anger and forsake wrath; Do not fret; it leads only to evildoing.” Psalm 37:8. And James writes the following, “This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” James 1:19-20.
Next we have clamor. The idea here speaks of a loud and confusing noise, especial from people who are so angry they just shout and yell at each other. It also refers to making a demand, yelling loudly over and over. It speaks of a noisy outcry from a person or group of people in a loud and harsh matter. Next we have slander, which is essentially speaking in a bad or injurious manner which could cause others to look negatively at the person being spoken about. And finally malice. This is a step beyond slander in that it is not just words spoken, but also deeds. An example is when you hate someone to the point of desiring revenge or harm.
These are all things we need to watch out for in our dealings with others. We cannot claim to love others if we engage in any of these actions or thoughts about them. All of these are actions that can cause us to grieve the Holy Spirit. We must always look at ourselves and give up those things that are ungodly. In Lamentations we read, “Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD.” Lamentations 3:40. And also, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me and lead me in the everlasting way.” Psalm 139:23-24. Let us call out to God and ask Him to remove these wrongs from us, that we may live according to His ways.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.
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