“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Eph. 4:31)
My mom often used the expression “cleaning house, ” but she wasn’t talking about sweeping the floor or dusting the window sills. This expression seemed to me, even as a young boy to be much more intense than mere daily house cleaning chores. Even today I occasionally hear someone say “I’m going to clean house.” I know what they mean when they say it. Things are in bad shape or poor order and have to be straightened up.
Ephesians 4:31 is Paul’s message to the faithful saints that they need to clean their personal houses. He’s talking about lives of course. The list he proposes have a common element to them, don’t they? Every one of them is a negative response to someone else. I wouldn’t say we never have any of those feelings toward ourselves, but I think you would agree it would not be often.
No, these are ways we react to others. Bitterness leads to wrath which is closely connected to anger. Clamor and slander will soon lead to malice if they aren’t the product of malice already.
Having bitter feelings toward someone is not Christlike who on the cross offered forgiveness to those who crucified him. Forgiveness is the cure for bitterness towards others.
Wrath and anger are twin brothers so to speak. We start off angry and wind up in wrath. Wrath usually involves action of some kind. What we do when we are angry is seldom pretty, is it? Earlier Paul suggested we be angry and not let it lead us to sin, that is wrath. Now, he is saying stay away from anger because it will most likely lead to wrath which will result in more hurt.
Christians are to live quiet lives, and that leaves no place for clamor. Making a fuss is not the faithful saint’s way of life. We are to be at peace with all (ALL) men. We as faithful saints are not to strive and fight but to make peace and turn the other cheek.
Slander is a criminal activity and can land you in court. Faithful saints are to avoid courts. Slander hurts others. Christians are not to hurt others. Slander damages (tears down) but Christ followers are to build others up.
We would do well to follow President Lincoln’s example in his second inauguration address. “With malice towards none but charity towards all,” are spot on for the child of God.
Task for today: Get a large broom, bucket, and mop. It’s house cleaning time. Sweep up every bitter thought, mop up your anger and wrath. Dust away the clamor in your heart and vacuum up the slander still hanging around. Probably some malice in there too. Got to go. Clean house! You’ll enjoy your house more than ever.