So far 2015 has been a very hot summer, with seemingly no relief in sight from this heat wave. I was in South Georgia last weekend and there were moments I dreaded going outside because the heat index was so oppressive. Yet, the summer heat and damage it does pales in comparison to the damage caused by the anger, resentment and bitterness going on inside a lot of folks. By the way, this happens to Christians also, often leaving them with “Bitter Bones and Angry Eyebrows!”
At Covenant this summer, we have been preaching from the assigned lectionary Epistle readings in Ephesians. As Heath noted last week, the first 3 chapters of Ephesians are wonderful preaching passages. They are filled with a lot of feel-good texts. But the last 3 chapters move from the feel-good texts to “it’s time to have a grown up conversation with some hard talk” texts.
Such is the assigned text this week that says: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice.” Sometimes we forget that Paul wrote his Epistles to Christians to address issues Christians were having! Let’s face it, there are many otherwise committed Christians who have a great deal of anger within them. Some are quite bitter with all kinds of malice in their hearts toward others, sometimes in their own family or family of choice.
So Paul wrote to Christians with instructions to look within ourselves at any of these negative emotions that may be dwelling there and take care of what’s inside you. After all, the old cliché is “It’s not what you are eating, but what’s eating you that causes so much damage to our lives.” So look within and if you find these negative emotions living within you, deal with them immediately to prevent them from causing serious damage to our bodies, our lives and our relationships.
The problem is that not many of us know how to effectively deal with these negative emotions in a healthy way. We spend a lot time dwelling on them and feeding them; but not many of us spend much time dealing with them constructively. So in the next statement Paul gives us one way of helping us to deal with them. It’s called “refocusing.” The idea is that by learning to refocus your attention away from these negative emotions within you onto other healthy things, you’ll find yourself not acting on them. So Paul says look outward also and “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
It seems that if you want to avoid, “Bitter Bones and Angry Eyebrows” in your life, don’t just look inward, but also look outward. Evidently looking outward and learning to be kind and compassionate to others have a healing effect on our own lives. If we practiced these helpful hints on living, perhaps our lives would be more fulfilling.
Join us for Camp Meeting this Saturday, August 8, starting with Dinner at 5 PM, with worship to follow at 6:30 PM during which time Richard and I will be tag-team preaching. Then join us again on Sunday morning for worship. I’ll be dealing with overcoming bitterness that damages our souls and keeps us from God’s best for us in a sermon called “Bitter Bones and Angry Emotions” based on Ephesians 4:29-32.