Imagine you walked into a restaurant, and you saw smoke coming from the kitchen. People don’t seem to be bothered by it. They just go about their business. You think this isn’t right, so you walk through the doors and see that there is a group of people around a fire.
“What are you doing?” you ask. “We’re trying to manage this fire.”
“Don’t you mean, put out this fire?”
“No, we’re just trying to manage it. A little fire won’t be that bad.
That story is silly and made up. But It’s kind of what we do with our negative behavior --especially criticizing others.
Look at what Paul writes in Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Paul says to get rid of – eliminate all bitterness, rage, anger, fighting, and slander or as the Greek says blasphemia, or slander. We aren’t supposed only to manage and contain our criticism or defamation of someone. We are to eliminate it.
How is this possible? The gospel. The gospel says you have no power to stop the behavior. But the Holy Spirit, God’s gift to you, can. You are no longer a slave to sin of any kind. Therefore, humble yourself, repent of your behavior, and ask God to eliminate the criticism today.
Reflect: How does a person’s thinking impact their behavior? Why does a person’s beliefs (their heart) ultimately drive behavior? What does one’s belief have to do with the ability to put off and put on?
Respond: Chances are someone criticized you and you’ve been critical of someone else. Have you forgiven them for being criticized? Have you apologized and sought forgiveness for your criticism? If not, begin today.
Prayer: Father, thank you for desiring the best for me. Thank you for not criticizing me, but instead coaching me through your loving Word. Amen.
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