In Ephesians 4:31, Paul tells us: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Tim Chester in his book, You Can Change, makes these illuminating comments on this verse:
These behaviors all have two things in common. First, they all involve other people. Second, they’re all symptoms of thwarted and threatened sinful desires. Often we can’t spot sinful desires. But when they’re threatened or thwarted by other people, we respond with bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, slander, and malice. One of the great things about living as part of a community is that in community people walk all over your idols. People press your buttons. That’s when we respond with bitterness, rage, and so on. And that gives us opportunities to spot our idolatrous desires. God is using the different people, the contrasting personalities, in your church to change your heart.
These are important words for the church today where many Christians whose idols are walked over simply find another church or leave church altogether. But God placed us in the church to help reveal our idols, to change us, to draw us nearer to him. So next time someone irritates you, consider why. What idol are they walking all over? What sinful desire in your heart is your response to their actions revealing? That other person isn’t the problem. The idols in our hearts are the problem. Together we can identify our idols, and with God’s help turn away from our idols to serve more and more the one true God.