And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:30-32, ESV.
In verses 23-34 believers are directed “to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self.” Paul then issues four associated commands: integrity in speech, self-control over anger, an honest and generous work ethic, and a call for gracious speech. His final command is a multifaceted instruction for believers to love one another and, by so doing, bring joy to the Holy Spirit.
Paul warns the church not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God” because the Spirit is the seal of their redemption. The Spirit is God’s stamp on His people, marking them as such until the day when their redemption faith becomes a resurrection reality. But the Spirit is also One who can be grieved. What a horrible thing to bring grief to the One who is keeping you for that momentous day.
The warning is followed by a detailed list of do’s and don’ts that boil down to the commandment, “Love one another.” The way for the saint to bring joy to the Spirit of God is by loving the saints in kindness, compassion, and sacrificial forgiveness. On the other hand, the way for them to grieve the Spirit is through bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, and malice. Even without defining and differentiating between all of the words in these two lists, we get a clear view of what Paul has in mind. We are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in heart, word, and deed.
Maybe this is an appropriate time to go through that church directory or phone list. Set it next to a copy of these verses and ask yourself, “Am I bringing joy or grief to the Spirit of God in the way I feel and act toward ___________ ?” If it is joy, give thanks to God. If it is grief, repent, seek forgiveness, and sin no more. You will find that the Holy Spirit is not the only one who is blessed as you do.
My prayer is that we might all know what it is to be part of a church where the Holy Spirit of God is blessed by the kind, compassionate, and forgiving love shown among the saints.