“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Have you ever wondered what the scripture means when it tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit? The simple answer would be to say that we should not sin. All sin grieves the Spirit. But, actually, there is more to it than just that. Look carefully at what Paul said when he gave this admonition. He was talking about a specific type of sin.
Paul discussed six things that grieve the Spirit: bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. Notice what he didn’t say. He didn’t say adultery, murder, sabbath-breaking, or even covetousness. It’s not that these don’t also grieve the Lord. But the six things above all have one thing in common. They are sins of relationship. And not just any relationship, but relationship between members of the body of Christ. As one Christian to another we should not express these things at all. They break relationship, they break the body, they grieve the Lord who died for the person you are fighting as much as he died for you.
Do you have a relationship with another Christian that is marked by these sins? Then look at the solution offered by Paul. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.”
Have you ever heard a Christian say, “I may have to love someone, but that doesn’t mean I have to like them.” This is a terrible thing to say for the simple fact that it isn’t true. While forgiveness starts in the will, it must also take hold in the heart. How else can we explain Paul’s command to be, “Tenderhearted?” If we don’t feel the release of forgiveness, then perhaps we have not forgiven at all.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Take a few minutes to examine your relationships. Do you have anyone you are divided with? Have you grieved God’s Spirit by that relationship? Prepare to exercise forgiveness and tenderheartedness. Pray toward that end and look for an opportunity to repair whatever damage has been done.