Jump Start # 2305
Ephesians 4:31 “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
In our Jump Start yesterday we talked about being transformed rather than conforming to the world. In that Roman passage Paul reveals that the transformation takes place by the renewing of our minds. This I believe is the hardest aspect of putting distance between us and the sinfulness of the world. It’s one thing to stay away from the drinking parties and the evil influences that are found in the world. However, it is so hard to change the way one thinks. That renewing of the mind is a constant struggle and it is where the battle is won or lost.
Our verse today reminds us that there are attitudes and thoughts, that eventually become our behaviors, that must be put away. Paul identifies six evil thoughts that determines how we treat others. These all begin in our minds. Unchecked and unstopped, these lead to all kinds of trouble in the home and in every relationship one has.
The question from this, “How does one keep from becoming bitter?” Bitterness quickly turns into anger, which is manifested by clamor, slander, malice and wrath. Those all are directly related to anger which naturally follows bitterness. Stop the bitterness and you stop many of these things. But how? There are so many things to be bitter about.
Unfairness causes one to be bitter. The recent scandal about the rich and famous paying bribes to get their darlings into elite colleges, is enough to make those who worked hard, were honest and above board the entire process to be bitter. Someone may have been denied admittance because room was made for the bribed kid. Unfair. It sure is.
It is unfair how some take advantage of others in a crisis. A storm passes through and damages homes. Guys show up with the promises to clean up and repair things. Money is collected and then they skip town. Bitter.
Bullies in life are enough to make some bitter. When your child is bullied, you feel like following him to school and taking care of the bully. But those thoughts are leading us through anger and straight into wrath. See how quickly and easily that happens.
Ripped off by salesmen. Bitter. Something happens at work, or even down at the church house that you feel is not right, proper or good. Immediately you feel bitter. A man’s name is put out before the congregation to be an elder and before the day is over, wicked hearts attack him and his family and falsely accuse him to the point that he withdraws his name. Others know that all of this is a sham. A power play is unfolding and certain people are moving into position to have their way, even if it’s a false way. You nearly blow a fuse. This is so wrong. Good people have been hurt. It seems like nothing can be done. You are bitter and you begin to entertain ways to get even, and put an end to these wicked plans.
It’s easy to be bitter. It’s hard to keep the world’s way of thinking out. The culture we were raised in, the atmosphere that we work in, the attitudes we see on TV and in the movies, all pull us toward the bitter way. Think about the daytime commercials on TV. If you have been injured, they begin, call an attorney. No one thinks about forgiveness. It’s sue. Bitter, angry, now get revenge. That renewing of the mind is a struggle. It’s not what we naturally want. We find no examples of it around us. Everyone allows their feelings to run their lives.
And, when we think like the world, it’s no wonder that we often act like the world. The world defines life, death, success, happiness so differently than God does. The purpose of life is seen very differently from the world’s standpoint. What God values, the world doesn’t. What God wants from us, the world turns it’s back from and walks another way.
Renewing the mind. Tough to do, but something we must do if we expect to please the Lord, distance ourselves from bitterness and not follow the drum beat that the world listens to.
To renew the mind begins with a purpose and a plan. One must want to renew the mind. One must see that the world’s way doesn’t work. The world’s way certainly isn’t Biblical nor pleasing to God. The plan in all of this is the word of God. One must fill his heart and mind with the word of God. Let the word dwell in you, is what the Ephesians were told. Let your mind dwell upon the right things is what the Philippians were told. Have the mind of Christ in you. You do this by putting others first. You do this by forgiving. You do this by applying the golden rule. You do this by loving your neighbor as yourself.
To renew the mind we must think first, before we speak and capture our thoughts. We live among broken people. They will, as we sometimes still do, choose wrong rather than right. People will be mean. People will side with sin. People will hurt. I think it shocks some that people of the world do not act like Christians. We expect the world to be kind, it’s not. We expect the world to be fair. It’s not. We expect the world to be patient. It’s not. We expect the world to forgive. It won’t. So the thinking of the world is opposite of Christ. What we hear all around us each day is not what we must use. Our thoughts must be shaped by the Scriptures. When more and more of God’s word shapes our hearts then our minds become shaped and the outcome is transformation through a renewed mind. The mind thinks differently than what it once did. The mind thinks rather than reacts. The mind thinks rather than following the calls of the world. The mind is different than that of the world. The mind is renewed. The mind is transformed.
To renew the mind is a constant reflection upon our part. Things happen. Often anger and bitterness rises to the surface in an instant. The transformed person realizes this. He catches this. He stops this before any words or actions are formed. He changes his thinking. Right then and there he is reminded of Scriptures. He is reminded of what the Lord would do and what the Lord would want from him. Something happens and the child of God is hurt. Those around encourage him to do something back. That sure sounds good until Scriptures remind him of the way the Lord acted at the cross. The child of God pulls back. He won’t pursue striking back. He is not interested in getting even. He is thinking differently than ever before. He is thinking better than he ever has before. He has no regrets. There are no words that he later has to apologize for. There are no actions that got him in trouble.
Our verse today is followed by: “And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you” (Eph 4:32). Each of those are choices. Instead of being bitter, he is kind. Instead of being angry and full of wrath, he is tender hearted. Instead of slander and malice, he forgives. He does that, because God has already done that to him. He does that because he is now thinking differently.
Renewing the mind—it’s tough to do, but you can do it, if you want.