“Let ALL bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and outcries, and evil speaking, be put away from you with ALL malice. And become ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, dealing graciously with each other even as God, in Christ, deals graciously with you.” Ephesians 4:31-32.
Paul tells us to put ALL these away, not some depending on particular circumstances. The more our minds are absorbed with the language of grace, the more we will reflect the character of grace. Note too how Paul begins his appeal with the word “LET.” There is no “thou shalt” or else! The exhortations under grace are suited to the administration of grace.
What are the “all” we are to put away?
Put away ALL bitterness. The word in Greek has the idea of poison or venom. This a disposition we are to put away.
Put away ALL wrath. The word means “out of control,” anger so severe it is as if you’re breathing hard. The Discovery Bible Glossary says wrath is “an anger of passion when someone ‘sees red.’” Trench says it’s a “boiling agitation of the feelings.” Put away ALL wrath.
Put away ALL anger. “…together with the desire of revenge.” According to Bullinger, the word comes from the Hebrew meaning “to kill, and all the tumults and passion WHICH TERMINATE IN KILLING.” Bullinger continues. “This is traced in German kreig, war.” Previously, Paul asked, “Can you be angry and not miss the mark?” Since he encourages us to put away all anger here, the answer is no. Put away ALL anger.
Put away ALL outcries. The Greek means heated screaming and shouting, which is the outcry of anger, war, and the calling for the destruction of others. Put away ALL outcries.
Put away ALL evil speaking. This is vilification, libel, defamation, or slander with implied hostility. Put away ALL evil speaking.
Put away ALL malice. This is the state of mind bent on destroying or tearing others down. “The stooping to unscrupulous means to making or injure someone….that which takes pleasure in the misery or pain of another person.” A person with a malicious disposition will soon find a way to act on it. Put away ALL malice.
Paul urges us to put away these six ugly things. However, he gives us beautiful things to take the place of human nastiness.
Become kind one to another. Kind means, “Good, gentle, benevolent, benign; ACTIVELY beneficent IN SPITE OF INGRATITUDE.” Become kind one to another.
Become tenderhearted to one another. Rotherham translates it as “tenderly affectionate.” Bullinger says, “yearningly affectionate.” Become tenderhearted to one another.
Deal graciously with each other. This is much more than forgiveness; it is doing favors and showing kindness. “To give or bestow a thing willingly or graciously.” That’s how God, in Christ, deals with us. Let us become imitators of God. Deal graciously with each other.
Let’s replace the rotten fruit that characterizes the nations and replace it with the delicious fruit that comes from understanding grace. Grace is more than a “theological” concept. When properly understood, it will change you.