29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
Believe me — for Christ’s sake, and for your own sake — I know what I am talking about when I refer to a bitter spirit. I have been an embittered, sorry, young man for a long time. God has healed me of that spirit — graciously, mercifully. If I can help you to overcome your own problem with bitterness, I shall do that gladly, cheerfully, with a sense of joy, and glee.
Let me tell you a little secret. The spiraling staircase keeps on spiraling downward. The bitter man keeps on spiraling downward. But the spiraling staircase also spirals upwards. The cheerful, gracious person, continually spirals in an upward direction. It is a wonderful direction to go in. It is joyful, full of fruit, full of goodness, full of cheerfulness. There is “no sorrow” in that direction. It is God’s direction. Here is a another secret. You can choose the direction you want to go in: either up, or down, that spiraling staircase.
I don’t know why, really, but I got caught recently in a very bad “spiraling downward” trap. It was a trap of bitterness, and it expressed itself through my evil mouth. “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8). That was my tongue! Finally, God got hold of it, and revealed to me the “deadly poison” (as James says) that was coming out of my mouth. This is how he did it (I confess).
In an embittered state, I began to write a letter to a man whom I know and have had relationship problems with (in the past). The thoughts of my heart began to express themselves on that piece of paper. I thought I was “doing justice” to the situation. The problem was just that: All justice and no mercy. In Micah 6:8, the Bible says we (ourselves) are to “do justly.” But, in that same passage, it also says that we are to “love having mercy” on others. So justice is a good standard to go by — for ourselves, that is. However, when it comes to dealing with others, we are to go by the rule of mercy. Jesus said, “Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.” (Matthew 7:12). We have studied this passage before. It means, simply put, “have mercy on others.” Well, I was not doing too well with that letter.
I thought I had finished the letter, and, lo and behold, my young 4-year-old son came by to sit on my lap. “Daddy, what are you doing?” “I’m writing a letter to so-and-so,” I responded. “Oh, really?” my son replied. “Can you please read it to me?” That was the first time my son has ever asked me to read one of my letters that I have written. I wonder, could that be “coincidental?” I don’t think so. I think God was motivating my son — by His Spirit, who works so mightily within us — to actually ask me that question. It was as though Jesus himself came by and said the same thing. (I see no difference). “Sure, Daniel,” I replied. I began to read him the letter, but stopped short at the second paragraph. The reason I didn’t read any further was that I realized, upon reading it, that this was not a gracious letter. It was not filled with the Holy Spirit. It was filled with condemnation. I repented before the Lord (silently), and then proceeded to “read my son the newer version of the letter.” As I “read him this newer, updated version,” of course, I was literally “typing the new letter” at the same time. It was, after all, a brand new letter. The new letter, of course, was a lot nicer than the old. It was actually just as Jesus would have wanted me to write it, according to Matthew 7:12, “As I would want others to do to me,” that is. I know it was full of mercy. Of course, in the process, I did not sacrifice truth, because that would have been lying. But it was full of mercy — and I left out a whole pile of stuff that that “other” letter contained.
What’s the lesson in all of this? By an act of His mercy, and grace, and love, and goodness (all of which was not really inside of me when I was typing that letter), God got me off of that “downward spiraling staircase.” I’m so glad He saw fit to bring my son in at that time. No, I don’t doubt in the least that it was really “God in my son” doing His work. God wanted me healed of that bitter spirit. And, one way to destroy it is to simply “get off that staircase and start walking in the other direction.” By His grace, I was able to do just that. Thank you, Lord!