Put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk. Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, being gracious to one another, just as God in Christ also was gracious to you. Ephesians 4:31–32
While the first thing we see in this text is a command, if we look closely, we can also see the promise in the midst of it: if we maintain a good flow of God’s grace into our lives, bitterness (and its obstreperous cousins) will not grow in our hearts, and its fruit will not pollute those who live in our sphere of influence. We shut ourselves off from God’s Rescuing And Caring Exertions by ceasing to trust his disposition of events in our lives, by ceasing to trust him to right the wrongs done to us, and by ceasing to trust him to turn stumbling blocks into stepping stones. Without the hope grace provides, we cherish the hurts we’ve experienced—become unwilling to forgive—and enlist others in our efforts to secure the justice we feel we must have. Those who encounter us become infected with our arrogance and experience our pain. But when, by faith, we open ourselves to God’s Rescuing And Caring Exertions, he flushes the virus of bitterness from our systems and prevents the infection from spreading. Then a gracious, sweet, life-giving spring of eternal life can flow out of us.
Gracious Lord, help me to see the purifying strength of your grace in my life, so I will trust you to overcome the hurt I have felt and my bitterness will be banished. Amen