Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (ESV)
“An honest man was being tailgated by a stressed out woman on a busy boulevard. Suddenly, the light turned yellow just in front of him. He did the right thing, stopping at the crosswalk, even though he could have beaten the red light by accelerating through the intersection.
The tailgating woman hit the roof, and the horn, screaming in frustration as she missed her chance to get through the intersection.
As she was still in mid-rant, she heard a tap on her window and looked up into the face of a very serious police officer. The officer ordered her to exit her car with her hands up. He took her to the police station where she was searched, finger-printed, and photographed, and then placed in a holding cell.
After a couple of hours, a policeman approached the cell and opened the door. She was escorted back to the booking desk where the arresting officer was waiting with her personal effects.
He said, "I'm very sorry for this mistake. You see, I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, flipping off the guy in front of you, and cussing a blue streak at him. I noticed the 'Choose Life' license plate holder, the 'What Would Jesus Do?' bumper sticker, the 'Follow Me to Sunday School' bumper sticker, and the chrome-plated Christian fish emblem on the trunk. Naturally, I assumed you had stolen the car!"
The sad reality is that Christians can often damage their reputation by acting just like the world. When we refuse to let the Holy Spirit to control us, we will be controlled by our flesh. And our flesh wants the opposite of what the Spirit wants. The flesh will act out in anger, rage, malice, etc. These are the very things that Paul says we are to get rid of.
So, how do we let go of these things that Paul says need to go? Do we honestly have the ability in ourselves to let go of them? Just think of bitterness for example? I know people who have lived most of their whole lives hanging on to bitterness. They even claimed to be Christians! Is it even possible to get rid of something like that?
The answer is Yes! Yes, it is possible to get rid of these things. But, NO, it is not possible in our own strength. We need the Holy Spirit to help us. In fact, it is impossible to obey God at all without the Spirit's help. What we need to do is submit ourselves to the control of the Spirit. He alone can enable us to clean out the things in our life that are destructive and sinful.
Why not ask the Holy Spirit to evaluate the things that you are hanging on to that are not pleasing to the Lord? Ask him to help you to let go of things like bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. He is faithful. He wants to help you. All you need to do is ask.
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