Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. (
Honest and helpful speech will be healthy speech. It promotes wholesome relationships.
Why do you think when you go to the doctor, he or she says, “Open your mouth, stick out your tongue, and say, ‘Ah’ ”? The physician can tell a great deal about your physical health by simply looking at your tongue. When you examine what comes out of your mouth, what does it disclose about the condition of your relationships?
Healthy relationships will, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” (
Eph.4:31). Suppose you were diagnosed with cancer—an
aggressive kind—that the surgeon says must be removed immediately. When you awaken from the operation, the first
question you are likely to ask your doctor is, “Did you get it all?” You realize that with cancer, to leave any
cells, is to see it attack your body again and kill you. Paul, as a doctor of the soul, tells us that
the spiritual malignancies of “bitterness,
wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.” These are lethal to a relationship and must
be excised—all of it!
Yet, the removal of cancer, vital as that would be to living, does not insure we are healthy. Positively, there would need to be the proper diet, exercise, and sleep, if physical conditioning is to be classified as being healthy. I mean you might not have cancer, but die of a heart attack from gorging yourself and lying around like an old hog! I’ve heard the term, “healthy as a horse,” but not “healthy as a hog”! So, the Apostle says that healthy communication demands the diet of kindness, the exercise of tenderheartedness, and the rest of forgiveness. The standard is to forgive as Christ has forgiven us.
Recall the story Jesus told about a king whose servant owed him a great sum. When the bill came due, the servant had no means to pay such a sum. In those days, a man could be cast into debtor’s prison, but when the fellow tearfully shared his bankruptcy, the wealthy master—who was also rich in kindness—forgave the debt. He wrote every cent off the ledger and bore the loss himself.
But, there was more to the story. The fellow who had experienced such generosity, had a fellow servant who owed him a small sum compared to the great amount he had owed. He demanded payment, nonetheless. The other servant couldn’t come up with even that amount. Then, the lender grabs the borrower by the throat, slams him against the wall, and demanded that he pay or be put in prison—and that he did—throwing his fellow servant in jail.
Word gets back to the king—and he was ticked! After he was so generous, and that man was so greedy! Remember what happened?
Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (
When we don’t forgive we harm ourselves. The iron bars of bitterness hold us captive. We become tortured souls. If we want forgiveness, we must be willing to offer it.
“They owe me!”
No doubt, but what do you owe God in comparison? A debt that could not be fully paid if you were tormented for eternity? Yet, Christ has forgiven you! His blood has blotted out your debt toward heaven. Should we not write off in kindness and tenderheartedness the sum others owe us?
Healthy relationships mean we sincerely say two words, “I’m sorry” and the response is three words, “I forgive you.” Open your mouth, stick out your tongue—what does it reveal about your health?