Grab your Bible and open it to Ephesians 4:25-32. This is the passage we looked at this past Sunday, and there are some more applications from this text that I would like to talk about today. This past Sunday we began a series on forgiveness. Sadly, it has been my experience in every church where I have served to see bitterness and anger between Christians within the church. There have been times when I have personally wrestled with feelings of anger and bitterness towards Christians who had hurt my family or me. We all eventually encounter these feelings, and God's word warns us against their consequences in this passage.
In dealing with my anger within the church, I must…
1) Give no opportunity to the Devil (27) "and give no opportunity to the devil"
Anger against another Christian gives the Devil an opportunity to attack a church. If we let our anger continue without dealing correctly with the situation, Satan enters the scene and has a great opportunity to do irreparable damage.
2) Guard my speech (29) "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths"
Anger also leads us to share gossip and slanderous speech about the person with whom we are upset. We must fight, with God's help, to make sure that the words that come out of our mouths are filled with the same grace that God has shown us in Christ.
3) Grieve not the Holy Spirit (30) "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God"
Nothing can quench the work of the Holy Spirit within a church faster than anger. Anger leads to corrupting talk (29), wrath (31), bitterness (31), clamor (quarreling) (31), slander (negative gossip) (31), and malice (a desire to see the offender physically harmed) (31). When anger is present in the body of Christ, it affects the pulpit, offering, worship, and outreach of a church. This grieves the Holy Spirit.
What is clear from these verses is that when two people within the church are angry at one another, it does not just affect them. It affects the whole church. And the church cannot effectively share the forgiveness of God with the world when we are unable to forgive each other.
What is the only solution to the anger between Christians? Forgiveness. Verse 32 says it best: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
If you have been harboring anger towards another member of our church, as the pastor I encourage you to work through those feelings in light of the forgiveness you have received in Jesus. Study these verses good and hard, and pray about how God would have you resolve those feelings of bitterness in your heart.
May God protect us all from grieving the Holy Spirit in this area, and may he continue to bless us with the joy of unity!
- Bro. Dave