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1780. Put Off Bitterness and Put On Kindness

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
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May 24, 2024 5:00 pm

1780. Put Off Bitterness and Put On Kindness

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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May 24, 2024 5:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit concludes the series entitled “New Life in Christ,” with a message from Ephesians 4:31-32.

The post 1780. Put Off Bitterness and Put On Kindness appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

The Daily Platform
Bob Jones University

Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, Dr. Steve Pettit is concluding a study series from Ephesians entitled New Life in Christ. Today's message is entitled Put Off Bitterness and Put On Kindness from Ephesians 4, 31-32. Take your Bibles, please, and turn with me to the book of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 4 this morning. And we're going to look at our two final verses that we've been working on throughout the entire semester. And this will bring us to the conclusion of our study of New Life in Christ. And these are, of course, very, very practical and very helpful words for all of us. And so let's begin reading this morning in verse 31 and then to verse 32. Hear what Paul has to say.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice, and be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven you. On a hot summer afternoon, July 12th, 1993, two brothers, 15-year-old Herman Dutton and his 12-year-old brother, Drewey, from Rush Springs, Oklahoma, went into the living room of their mobile home trailer where their 39-year-old father, Lonnie Dutton, was taking a nap on the couch. The two sons had in their hands their father's rifle.

As they approached the snoozing father, Herman pointed the barrel of the rifle behind the father's right ear. And Drewey squeezed the trigger of the rifle, killing their father instantly. Later that day, the brothers were apprehended by the police and the forthcoming question everyone wanted answered was what?

Why? Why would two brothers kill their own father? I remember as I watched this event on the evening, national evening news, and what I just said to you, I heard on the TV, and without them answering the question of why, I almost immediately knew why. The answer was really predictable, and that is the father had been known to be a belligerent, obnoxious, spiteful person whose only goal in life seemed to be to see how many people he could make hate him and fear him. The Dutton children had been living for many years under their father's daily abuse. He would beat them.

He would kick them with his steel-toed shoes. However, on this day, the 12th of July, was a different experience because the boys had just learned from their 10-year-old sister that their dad had been, and I quote, messing with their little sister. Literally, it meant that he had been sexually abusing her, and here's the irony of the story, and that is the boy's father had given his sons repeated orders that if anybody messes with his sister, then shoot them behind the ear or in the heart, kill them.

It's ironic, and though the story is unique and tragic, in varying degrees, this kind of thing happens thousands of times all over the world. Somebody is hurt, abused, mistreated. That leads to bitterness. Bitterness leads to anger, and that anger leads to some kind of malicious response, some kind of action. However, what Paul is telling us here is that there is power in the Gospel, the most practical kind of power, and that is that the grace of God is able to deliver a bitter-filled life and transform them into a person with kindness and grace.

And the miracle of the story that I've just given you, though it's tragic, and it came from 24 years ago, today, one of those two brothers is an assistant pastor at a church near where he grew up in Oklahoma. And what do we learn? The Gospel can turn bitter people into kind people. And so today, as we finish this semester's study, we've been looking at Paul's directives to Gentile believers who have come to Christ, and he's telling them don't live like you once lived. And Paul has described five different ways in which God's people are to conform to the realities of this new life by putting off the old life of sin and putting on the new life of righteousness. And we've been looking at those areas. For example, he told us that we have a new position, we're members of the body of Christ, therefore we're to tell the truth and not lie.

We studied that. We learned we have a new enemy, the devil, and so therefore we're to hate sin, but we're not to hate sinners. We have a new privilege, and that is that we can now work and we can become a giver and not a taker. We have a new presence, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, so we should be careful with our words. We should use our words not to tear people down, but to build people up. And finally, this morning, we have a new grace.

We have been truly forgiven. We have been graced by God in forgiveness, therefore, because of God's grace towards us, expressed in His kindness towards us, we are to put away bitterness, and we are to put on kindness. And this final challenge from Paul is of supreme importance, because we are dealing with a world where hurting people are constantly in a vicious cycle of hurting other people. And yet that cycle can be broken by the grace and the kindness of God.

So let's look at two things this morning. Number one, in verse 31, he tells us what to put off, and then in verse 32, he tells us what to put on. Now, as we look at this verse in verse 31, there are a couple of key questions we have to ask and try to answer in order to interpret this verse correctly. Notice what he says, let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.

Now, three questions. First of all, why is the command to put away in the passive voice? Now, you don't see that obviously reading the English, but if you look at the Greek, you'll notice that.

What Paul is doing is he is commanding us to make a decisive decision to get rid of and do away with all the things he mentioned here in verse 31. However, it's in the passive voice. You say, what do you mean by that? Well, the active voice is what I'm supposed to do.

It would seem like it would be that. The passive voice is actually what's being done to me. And I think what Paul is saying here is that putting away these things involves action, but it is not action based on my own strength. In other words, when you're bitter and angry and mad and upset, that it is just not natural for you to put that off.

But you need supernatural strength. In other words, I can't put these things away without God's grace enabling me. So this put away is not based on your moral strength, but it's based on your spiritual dependence on grace. The second question is this, why is the word and repeated so much?

What does it say? Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away? Why does he just say let all bitterness, wrath, anger and clamor and evil speaking?

And the answer is that this is actually intended. It's a style or a form of communication where things are connected together in succession for a particular effect. And in this passage, the effect is that each vice is the result of the preceding vice. So you could say bitterness produces wrath and wrath produces anger and anger produces clamor or yelling and clamor produces blasphemy and cursing. In other words, they flow together. You're not going to separate them.

And then the third question is this. Why does Paul use the word all twice? He says in the beginning, let all bitterness and then he concludes with all malice. And I think the answer is this, that bitterness is referring to people who've been hurt, hurt people. Malice is referring to people who want to hurt people. And this is an all encompassing way of showing us that hurt people hurt people.

And he's saying all of this needs to be put away. That we need to be ruthless on ourselves and not allowing those things to come into our life. So let's just take a notice of each one of these words. Let's begin with bitterness. It's a word that's commonly used today, but what does it mean? Well, the word bitterness has the idea of something that is sharp and pointed like when we say you got stabbed in the back. It also is the idea of something that is obnoxious to the taste buds. It's the idea of you go through an experience and it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

You don't want to go through that experience again. And in the book of Hebrews chapter 12 and verse 15, the word bitterness is actually referred to as a root sin. Looking diligently lest any man fail with the grace of God, lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you and thereby many be defiled. Bitterness is the origin or the cause of everything else in this verse.

It's the root that produces the fruit. So what is bitterness? Bitterness is some kind of experience I go through where I was deeply hurt. For example, it could be some kind of hurt that comes from unjust mistreatment. Something happens and you're mistreated. You feel like it's not fair.

Maybe something that you had was taken away or you experienced a loss. I remember numbers of years ago preaching in a small town in Michigan and I went into the local post office and a lady was there and I began talking to her and I asked her, I said, are you a Christian? And she said, yes. And I asked her, where do you go to church? And she said, well, I don't go to church. I said, ma'am, why don't you go to church? She said, because I'm mad at God. I thought, well, at least she's honest. I said, ma'am, why are you mad at God?

She said, because five years ago my husband died and I don't think it's fair and I'm mad over what happened. How many of you have ever been mistreated? Well, welcome to planet earth. A friend, a leader, maybe something you had you were mistreated by an authority. Look, it's almost impossible to go through Bob Jones University and not feel like somebody mistreated you.

I mean, it's going to happen. And how you deal with this and how you respond with this, it's what Paul is dealing with here. Things that happen that I don't feel like it's fair.

Maybe it's physical problems, health, sickness. We know that Job experienced this in so many different ways. Reading Job's life is like, this is not even fair.

And it's almost the questions that he asked God. God, why are you allowing this in my life? This is not fair. But bitterness can also come not only through an unjust mistreatment, but it can come through some unfulfilled expectation. Something happens that's very disappointing. Maybe something that you were hoping to get and it fell through. I mean, this often happens in a breakup, a dating relationship, somebody's hurt.

Maybe something that you were hoping to get, a job or something to come along and it didn't happen. And there are all kinds of different ways. But bitterness is a painful experience and bitter people generally are what we call hurt people. And what does that produce? Bitterness produces the next word. The next word is the word wrath. Now what is wrath?

Wrath is sort of like a volcanic eruption, an explosion. It's when you become exasperated with people, where there's intense irritation and annoyance to the point that there is some kind of a passionate outburst. And when we consider a Christian becoming bitter, and that's who I'm talking to today by and large, we often forget that God's way of gain is actually through pain. Maturity comes through chastening. Hebrews chapter 12, that's what he's writing about.

We're running a race and we're going through the discipline process of being in shape and it's painful. God trains us through discipline and chastening shows that we're God's children and that he loves us and that this is going to happen because parents discipline their children and God is a good father. But the encouragement for going through discipline is that God gives grace for all the difficult experiences of our life.

For example, think of the apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 12. What does he say? He said, I had a thorn in the flesh. I asked God to take it away three times and God said, no, I'm not going to take it away. The pain is not going to go away, but I'm going to give you something better. I'm going to give you grace. And you're going to learn that my grace, my enablement in the midst of your pain is sufficient for you.

It's enough for you. And you are going to find out that when you're weak with God, that's when you become strong. However, God gives this grace only to those who are humble, to those who resist the temptation to become angry and frustrated.

It often is rooted in our pride where we feel like we were mistreated or disappointed and we have to come to a place where we trust in all situations that God is good. But if you don't humble yourself, what happens? You become controlled by the emotion of that pain. You become bitter and you become angry and you start lashing out. You start reacting.

That's what he's talking about. And then notice the next word, the word anger. This word anger is different from wrath. Wrath is like the quick flame. Anger is like the slow burn. It's the hot embers on the charcoal grill. It's like going to the restaurant and the waiter says, don't touch the plate because it's hot.

It's more of a settled hostility where it's not just kind of blowing up, but it's more of that idea of a sense of revenge. I'm going to get back and certain things stir it up. My wife and I were married in 1980 and we went on our honeymoon to a resort ranch in Colorado called Deer Valley Ranch. We had our own cabin and all the meals were provided and they were actually family style meals.

So you go in and they were incredible meals, but you would go in, you sit down at a table where you're assigned and there were other people there. So my wife and I were there one evening and sat next to a gentleman and so he asked us, you know, how long you been married? We said we just got married and we just finished school and so forth and so on. Very nice guy until he asked me the question, well where did you go to school? And I said, well I just graduated from Bob Jones University. And he pushed his chair back and he yelled out, Bob Jones?!

I went, whoa. Obviously he has some internal hostility going on. Some kind of settled hostility. And then he proceeded to tell me how much he disliked Bob Jones University, though he didn't go here, but his sister went here. And she had a bad experience back in the 1950s.

I was married in 1980. So for almost 30 year period of time, he had this underlying anger and resentment in one word, explosion. Now that kind of issue, regardless of the location, happens to people all the time as Christians. Bitterness, wrath, anger. Then notice the next word, clamor. The word clamor means to shout or scream at somebody. It's the idea of arguing or crying or yelling full of anger. And then the next word, evil speaking. This means to speak against someone in such a way as to harm or injure their reputation. Slander, defamation, libel, cursing. This could either be verbal or it can be written.

It can be in a conversation or it can be on Facebook. And then notice the last word, all malice. Malice is the feeling of hostility to the point where you want to harm the person that has hurt you. You could sum it up this way, that hurt people hurt people. And what Paul is doing is he's taking all of this stuff and he says, this is the way the Gentile world lives. They live this way without God. But this is not the way you're to live. You are to put these things away.

You cannot live this way. You are to put it away because it was put away on the cross. And then that leads to the second command and that is what we're to put on.

Because he's not just dealing with negatives, he's dealing with positives. And notice what he says in verse 32. And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. The word put away is an imperative, a command. The word be ye kind is also a command. He says you be, and this is what you're to be, you're to be kind. It implies that kindness has to be developed. It's not natural.

We have to work at it. The word kind is the idea of providing something beneficial for somebody else. It's the desire to make other people happy. It means to be considerate of their needs and interests. It means you're disposed to do them good, to be helpful, to be useful to others. It's like feeding people tasty food. My wife has a little statement on our refrigerator at home.

It says love people, cook them tasty food. Yesterday I took the day off and my wife said let's go out to eat. I said why? I said you are better than any cook in town. I said why don't we just have breakfast at home? So my wife made eggs with cheese and bacon and sausage and she made seriously, seriously good cheese grits. She made crumpets, or she bought crumpets. I bought crumpets.

It had butter and it had jam on it and then to top it all off was a Krispy Kreme Boston cream filled doughnut sitting next to it. I mean life is good. She's kind. That's what he means here. It's like a good quality set of tools like craftsman tools. They're really good. It's like a good cup of coffee versus a bad cup of coffee.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee. It's like being thoughtful and courteous to people when you meet them and greet them. My son-in-law works for a law firm in Columbia and he just started working there recently and they have a five foot and ten foot rule. The ten foot rule is if you come within ten feet of people you have to acknowledge their presence. Like nod, smile, wave.

If you come within five feet of the person you have to greet them with a hello. It's nurturing a culture, an atmosphere of kindness. Jesus described this kindness when he said my yoke is easy.

The word easy means kind. Jesus is a master. We are slaves but he's a very kind master. This kindness is a fruit of the spirit. The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness.

The word gentleness means kindness. And Paul describes this kindness when he writes in Ephesians chapter two and verse seven when he says that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness towards us through Christ Jesus. What Paul is saying is that God has acted towards believers with grace. This grace that goes way beyond anything you and I could ever imagine. It is a grace that is so great it will take all eternity to explain it to us and we'll still never fully understand it. And this grace has been expressed in the way that God has acted in kindness towards us. And in verses six and seven of Ephesians two, he tells us how he expressed this kindness. He said you are dead in sins but he quickened you together with Christ.

Think about it. If somebody falls over dead and the other person comes up to them and raises them from the dead, that's pretty nice, isn't it? He raised us all from the dead. We used to be dead in sins. We're now alive in God. He's raised us up together.

That's not just resurrection from the dead only but it's also a raising up to Heaven. We are going to go to Heaven. And he's made us sit together in heavenly places. We are actually seated with Christ and in that position we have all of his blessings. Everything we have in life we need for life and godliness has already been provided for us. God is a kind God and this is the very opposite of bitterness because bitter people want to hurt people but kind people want to help people.

And then he adds another word. He says you need to be kind with a tender heart. What is a tender heart? It means to have compassion. It's the way Jesus felt when he saw the crowds as sheep without shepherds. It's the way he felt when he saw the leper who came to him to be healed.

It's the way he felt when he saw the widow of Nain as they were about to bury her 19 year old son and she was weeping. And in all of these occasions Jesus wanted to reach out and to help them. And Paul finishes by explaining what kindness does.

What does kindness ultimately do? And it's found in the last phrase of the verse. He says forgiving one another even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Paul describes kindness through the attitude of forgiveness. There are two words in the New Testament for forgiveness. One word means to remove the guilt.

It's sort of an action. The other word means to forgive with a certain attitude. That's the word that we find here that Paul uses and that is he's dealing with why we should put away with bitterness and why we should put on kindness and why we should show forgiveness because the root word for forgiveness in this passage is the word grace. You can say it this way, gracing one another because God in Christ Jesus has graced you.

How has God graced you? God has forgiven you of all of your sins. He will never bring them up.

He will never bring them up again. God is ultimately kind to us because we all deserve hell. Everybody here deserves hell. But God has forgiven you. And by the way, God will forgive you.

If you have come with sins, God will forgive you. And so what are we to do? We are to reciprocate that same kindness. And that is we are to constantly grace other people.

So as we finish this semester, this is exactly the way we should be living. When Jesus died on the cross, he said, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. May God give us here a spirit of grace and kindness and forgiveness and not harboring hurts but learning how to serve and to help other people. Father, we thank you for your word and your kindness and your grace. Lord, you have said that it will take all eternity to fully display your kindness. And Lord, help us to be kind to everyone.

In Jesus' name, amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Dr. Steve Pettit. Steve is now utilizing his gifts as a compelling communicator and expositor of Scripture and travels to local churches with preaching, concerts and conferences, emphasizing Gospel-centered evangelism and Christian leadership development. You can get more information about Steve's ministry at That's Thanks again for listening. Join us again next week as we study God's Word together on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-24 18:17:45 / 2024-05-24 18:27:21 / 10

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