Bible and cross

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of every kind of bitterness, rage, anger, quarreling, and slander, along with every kind of malice. Instead, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:30-32).

Have you noticed that people seem to be getting more impatient or even upset with each other recently? When COVID-19 first reached the pandemic stage, everyone seemed to pull together during a time of crisis. But we’re all getting tired of the situation.

One person gets upset because someone told them they should wear a mask or practice social distancing in public. They feel they have the right to make these decisions for themselves. Another person gets angry because people around them don’t seem to be taking the situation seriously. They feel others should take proper precautions during this uncertain time. Combine these factors with the rioting and other recent causes of unrest and you can see why many relationships are getting strained.

Is there anyone out there that you are feeling bitter or angry towards right now? God has some important words to say to you in Ephesians 4. Get rid of those angry feelings now. Nothing is going to be solved by holding on to them. In fact God’s Word shows us how the situation gets worse the longer we hold on to anger. What starts with inner feelings of bitterness will quickly well up inside and become rage and anger. Finally, such feelings can’t be contained anymore. Outward actions of slander and malice will result.

Angry feelings don’t just hurt our relationship with each other. They also hurt our relationship with God. God is grieved when we refuse to forgive one another. Jesus once said we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). The desire to serve and follow God and the desire to hold on to sin cannot exist forever in the same heart. Eventually one will win out over the other. The longer we hold on to hateful feelings, the stronger it becomes. Eventually our love for the Lord is weakened and ruined.

How do we get rid of anger toward someone else? Remember Jesus Christ and what he has done for you. God had every reason to be angry with us for our many sins. But instead of taking his anger out on us, God was kind and compassionate with us. He let his own Son bear our punishment for us on the cross. Because of Jesus, our sins are completely forgiven. God does not hold our guilt against us any longer. He doesn’t even call our sins to mind. That is how completely your Lord has forgiven you.

Are you struggling to forgive someone? Remember how God has shown his love and forgiveness to you. Remember how Jesus took away your guilt. Treasure the mercy God showed you. Then be kind and compassionate and forgive as God forgave you in Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Greg Tobison is pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Hutchinson.

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