1. Negative Speech
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
Constant complaining thrived in the camps of the Israelites in the wilderness. Nothing satisfied them. Instead of focusing on the Lord who rescued them from slavery and the provision He gave in a land where nothing existed, they found something wrong with everything.
They accused Moses, doubted God’s Word, and wanted to return to the land of Egypt.
This tested the Almighty to the point that those who rebelled were kept out of the promised land. Their hearts became so hardened that this group of people were never going to hear Him (Hebrews 3:7-11).
The same heartbreaking attitude can be reflected in our words if we don’t keep a watch over our mouths.
2. Uncontrolled Emotions
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. (Ephesians 4:32 NKJV)
All these words sound like the same emotion, but they are different in subtle ways.
Bitterness is akin to hatred. It is a root that produces bitter fruit or extreme wickedness. If this root stays planted, the branches of other evil actions can grow.
Wrath is indignation that can rise gradually and then subside. These are feelings that come and go due to thoughts and exposure to the actions of others.
Anger rises when we abhor injustice. This feeling can be used righteously as in Jesus’ cleansing of the temple. But we must guard ourselves that we don’t use anger in a vengeful way when we feel that we have personally been wronged (Ephesians 4:26).
Clamor is a deep crying or wail in distress, like self-pity. Malice is the destruction of a person’s character through slander or to blaspheme and give no respect to God.
The Israelites committed all of these against Moses and their leaders and especially to Jehovah. They wailed in distress at their perception of lack despite the provision given to them.
We can all be guilty of these emotions at times, and we know how destructive they can be to our lives. The Holy Spirit aches when we conduct ourselves this way because we are only hurting our own souls. A constant lifestyle of wrath can harden our hearts.