This is a powerful verse that addresses the theme of putting away negative attitudes and behaviors and embracing a Christ-like character. In this verse, the apostle Paul instructs the Ephesian believers, and by extension, all Christians, to rid themselves of negative emotions and behaviors that can harm relationships and hinder spiritual growth. The list of negative attributes mentioned includes bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, slander, and malice. Each of these reflects a heart that is not aligned with the character of Christ.
Applying this aspect of the verse to our lives, we are challenged to examine our hearts and attitudes towards others. We must be willing to confront any bitterness, anger, or malice that may be present and choose to let go of these harmful emotions. Instead, we are called to embrace forgiveness, love, and grace in our interactions with others.
The theme of forgiveness and letting go of negative emotions is present throughout the Bible. In Colossians 3:13, it says, "bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, if any man has a complaint against any; even as Christ forgave you, so you also do."
Applying this passage to our understanding of Ephesians 4:31, we are called to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven us. This enables us to release any bitterness and anger in our hearts and walk in the freedom of Christ's love.
Ephesians 4:32 follows the previous verse and complements it: "And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God also in Christ forgave you."
In this verse, Paul urges believers to exhibit kindness and compassion towards one another, being quick to forgive, just as God has forgiven us through Christ's sacrifice. This kindness and forgiveness are the marks of a Christ-like character.
Applying this aspect of the verse to our lives, we are encouraged to demonstrate kindness and tenderheartedness in our relationships with others. Our interactions should be marked by grace and forgiveness, reflecting the love and mercy that God has shown us.
The theme of showing kindness and forgiveness is repeated throughout the New Testament. In Luke 6:35-36, it says, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back; and your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind toward the unthankful and evil. Therefore, be merciful, even as your Father is also merciful."
Applying this passage to our understanding of Ephesians 4:32, we are called to demonstrate love, kindness, and mercy to others, just as God has shown us His love and mercy.
Together, Ephesians 4:31-32 emphasizes the importance of our attitudes and behaviors in our Christian walk. It reminds us that we are called to put away negative emotions and instead embrace a Christ-like character of love, forgiveness, and kindness.
Applying this to our daily lives, we must be vigilant in guarding our hearts against bitterness, anger, and malice, and be quick to forgive and show grace to others. Our interactions with one another should reflect the love and compassion that God has shown us through Christ.
Furthermore, these verses also highlight the transformative power of God's grace in our lives. We cannot achieve such a Christ-like character on our own. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit in us that we can put away the old self and put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
In conclusion, Ephesians 4:31 urges us to put away bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, slander, and malice, and instead embrace a Christ-like character of love, forgiveness, and kindness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can be transformed and reflect the grace and mercy that God has shown us through Christ. May we continually seek to walk in love and extend forgiveness to one another, just as God has done for us.
Ephesians 4:31. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, outcry, and slander, be put away from you, with all malice.