“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:31-32

When God told Paul to write these verses, the church of Ephesus was only 6 years old and they were still getting the hang of living like Christ. But God didn’t only have the Ephesians in mind when this was written, but He was thinking of us as well.

Hurt is not a new thing for anyone. It’s something that could be triggered by a strained relationship, a misunderstanding, or a betrayal of trust. But that hurt is only the beginning of a domino effect. After sulking over the pain, a whole bunch of other feelings start to creep into our hearts. Before we know it, we’ve entertained a variety of thoughts against the person who caused that hurt.

God created us to be emotional beings. He doesn’t expect us to be robots and not feel any form of hurt or pain; rather He tells us how to control those feelings. We need to watch what we water in our hearts because unlike others, it matters to God. Bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander… It’s interesting to see how God placed it in that specific order – He knows exactly how we would feel from start to finish. The problem we fail to see when we’re “in the moment” is that we end up reacting to our pain instead of responding. When we react, we end spreading the pain to those around us. This hinders us from being Christ-like to the people we can minister to.

The beauty in this passage is that God doesn’t only tell us what not to do, but also what we should do in replacement of those feelings. He says to be kind, compassionate, and forgiving – a stark contrast from how we would initially react to pain. He gives the perfect example of how to respond and not react. The opportunity to reflect Christ after all the hurt can be attained by simply remembering the love of Jesus and what He did for us. If Jesus can forgive us, sinful and unworthy beings, then we have no right to hold back forgiveness from those who hurt us.

Feeling pain is not invalid; the challenge is to still glorify Christ even when we feel that way. If the content of our hearts were to be revealed, would we still find anger and slander or would we find Christ-like forgiveness?

Written By:  Justine Paraso