Table of Contents
2. Your Morality and Spiritual Values
– Faithfulness gone cold
3. Grieving the Soul
– Supporting the dreamer
– When your values are out of whack
– Regret will hurt your soul
4. Walk With Integrity
– To be a person of integrity
Watch & Listen
The last thing that you ever want to do is hurt your soul, yet, many of us are hurting on the inside. God has given to us His word so that the values – the principles – of His word can uplift us, and therefore, all of those around us should we abide by His word. Yet, many of us are living in terrible pain today on the inside as our soul is grieving.
Your Morality and Spiritual Values
Don’t believe me? Well, if you take a look around, you can see the hurt soul being revealed through the bitter words of hatred and through the bitter acts of hatred. However, as sincere believers, should we live by the principles of God’s word, we produce fruits of the Spirit like love, joy, peace, kindness, and faithfulness (Gal. 5:22-23).
Sin, as we know, constantly tempts us in this world as it tries to pull us sincere believers back into the well of sin. At the same time, we know that our adversaries also do everything they can to knock us off the path of righteousness and back into the way of wickedness. Yet, just because the world lives in bitterness, that does not mean you should live with that same bitterness in your heart and hurt your soul. As I have said so far in this series, we must have the courage to faithfully live according to God’s word.
Faithfulness gone cold
In his letter to the church of Ephesus, Paul wrote to them about this thought as he said to them, “put off, concerning your former conduct […] and be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph. 4:22-23).” You see, your former conduct does nothing but hurt your soul.
Jesus addressed this same church in the Book of the Revelation on this same matter. Jesus, at first, complimented this church for their labor. In their labor, those of this church did not bear those who were evil nor those that claimed to be apostles but were found to be liars (Rev. 2:2). Now, while these things sound great, we will see that something was going terribly wrong with the church of Ephesus.
Jesus, we will see, rebuked this church because they had left the “love” they had when they first believed (Rev. 2:4); they were becoming bitter and in doing so, Jesus said that the Ephesians had moved from doing the “first works” (Rev. 2:5). What this meant is that the Ephesians were moving in a direction away from laboring in sincere and genuine faith.
How many of us have moved away from the passion and joy we had when we first came to know Christ? The labor of the Ephesian church, we should understand, was a labor that was incomplete. Their labor was incomplete because there was no compassion for others in their heart.
You might say, “but they rebuked the sinner, pastor”, but I tell you their rebuke was incomplete. Yes, they pointed out the wickedness and sins of others, but they did not move to offer a method of correction to uplift those that did wrong. You see, this church labored from a place of bitterness as they essentially despised (looked down on) sinners.
Those of this church were somewhat like the Pharisees; they had become more religion focused than faith focused. As we have seen before, religion is cold and without life whereas genuine faith sets the heart on fire for God! As sincere believers, we must remember that the first work for all believers is a work of sincere love – a work that uplifts rather than destroys.
So, as we see in my key verse, Paul encouraged this church to let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from them, with all malice (Eph. 4:31). Paul’s encouragement fell in line with Jesus’ later message for this church to repent and return to the first works of God (John 6:28-29).
What scares me about the collective Church today is how we are leaning more and more into bitterness and apathy, as you have heard me preach about before. There are many believers who, like those of the church of Ephesus, are quick to point out the sins of others without helping them to correct their way. You see, bitterness and apathy growing in your heart is how you hurt your soul and also the souls of those around you.
Grieving the Soul
Do you realize how much a lack of love or care can hurt your soul? How can we, the sincere believer, produce the righteousness of God if we are swift to move in anger and hate towards others?
James said it best when he wrote that we, as believers, ought to be more swift to hear (listen) and slow to speak; we should be slow to wrath. Why is that? James said this because the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God (Jas. 1:19-20). Sadly, I don’t believe many of us realize just how much we are hurting our soul by how we treat each other; if we did, then we would make some changes.
As believers, we must understand that anger and hate is contrary to our spiritual values. As Paul said, again in my key verse, the will and work of God calls for us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, and forgiving of each other. We are to love each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, and at the same time, all people should love each other as brothers and sisters of mankind.
You see, it is rather difficult to carry out God’s will if we have gone bitter and cold in our soul. I often think about our society, its history, and again, I consider where bitterness has gotten us? Nowhere. Again, I don’t think many of us understand the pain that we bring to our soul by how we conduct ourselves and treat those around us when we move out of bitterness.
Supporting the dreamer
When I think about the bitterness in how we treat each other, my mind takes me to Joseph and the bitter hate that his ten older brothers had for him. Joseph, the eleventh son of Jacob (Israel), was truly special; he was a dreamer that received dreams from God and moved faithfully. Joseph’s dreams excited him and in his excitement, he would share his dreams with his family. Nothing sounds bad about that, right?
The first dream he shared with his brothers was a dream of sheaves that he had gathered together in a bind. Joseph told his brothers that he saw his sheaves rising above their sheaves and their sheaves ended up bowing to his sheaves (Gen. 37:6-7). This was a dream that essentially spoke of Joseph one day being over his brothers which made their hate grow (Gen. 37:8).
After hearing Joseph’s story, bitterness grew in their hearts. Now, Joseph’s ten older brothers should have known better than to hate Joseph since they were raised to know the Lord. Yet, Joseph’s older brothers already hated him because he was Jacob’s favorite and received special treatment (Gen. 37:3-4).
Scripture tells us that Joseph had another dream and he shared this dream, once again, with his brothers but he also shared this one with Jacob. In this second dream, Joseph saw the sun, moon, and eleven stars bow to him. Joseph’s ten older brothers envied (resented) him while Jacob was curious of the dream and kept it in mind (Gen. 37:9-11).
I ask you: How would you respond and react if your brother, sister, friend, acquaintance, brother and sister in Christ, or even a stranger excitedly told you they had dreams whey they were greatly blessed? Would you rejoice with them or would you hate and despise them?
Let us remember that God’s word says that we should rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15); when one is honored, we all should rejoice (1 Cor. 12:26). As sincere believers, the principle is set that we should support the dreams of others and when God has blessed (rewarded) them — rejoicing with them as this uplifts the soul.
When your values are out of whack
The problem many of us face is that our values are all out of whack – we are too selfish, just like Joseph’s brothers. They hated Joseph so much that one day they beat him, threw him into a pit, and then sold him into slavery (Gen. 37:23-24, 28). Joseph’s older brothers threw him and his dreams away rather than support and uplift him; they did not value him, themselves, nor their dad.
Have you ever despised someone so much that you have actually chosen to hold them back and not uplift them? Hate like this is so damaging to the soul! People move against each other in a manner where we don’t value each other! Understand that If you don’t value those around you, then you don’t value yourself, the Lord, nor His word!
One of the saddest sights I’ve seen in the Church today is how we don’t support each other as we should. We aren’t training up future generations any more; church looks a lot like congress nowadays! Where have those church values gone where we are to uplift each other to new heights? Sadly, many have refused to let others grow within the body and now generations have gone missing in the Church today.
The truth of the matter is that God has given all of us dreams and promised that we will be blessed. The Lord, we must remember, desires for all of us are of peace, a future and hope (Jer. 29:11). When you try to suppress, oppress, and keep others from God’s blessings, your values are all out of whack! At the end of the day, you are doing nothing but hurting yourself and those around you.
Regret will hurt your soul
Now, though Joseph was done wrongly, God was still with him as he was blessed and highly favored; Joseph rose from slave to a governor of Egypt that advised the Pharaoh (Gen. 39:21-23; 41:37-55).
With the foresight given to him by the Lord, Joseph made preparation for a famine that was coming and would last seven years. When the famine struck the land, scripture indicates that it was so wide reaching that it was over all the face of the earth; the drought was a severe one over all of the known land at that time (Gen. 41:56).
The famine was so bad that Jacob had to send Joseph’s ten older brothers into Egypt for food (Gen. 42:1-6). They didn’t know this but guess who it was that was over the storehouse of food in Egypt? Guess who they had to end up going to for help? Guess who was about to feel a certain way in their hearts when they came to realize who they had to deal with?
As you have heard me say before, those that are blessed and highly favored will always overcome the bitterness and hatred of others. My parents taught me a very important lesson about life during my teenage years that I wish to share again with all of you. This was their lesson: “watch how you treat others because you never know whose help you will need one day.”
Joseph’s brothers had treated him as badly as it gets and now, as life would have it, they were in need of his help; he was the one in control of the storehouse in Egypt. When Joseph saw his brothers, he first masked his identity from them but he eventually revealed to them who he was. When they came to realize that it was him who they needed for help, they were greatly dismayed (Gen. 45:3).
Regret, I tell you, is a deafening pain that will hurt your soul – our soul will grieve because of our regrets. For you, as a believer, when you treat others poorly, you hurt your soul and it will cry out in pain. This pain is so great that you feel it in your heart and all of us know that we have sinned a great sin against the Lord.
Walk With Integrity
Now Joseph, I want you to understand, did not hide his identity from his brothers as some evil scheme against them. No, Joseph had the kind of heart we should aspire to have. In all that Joseph went through, Joseph moved with integrity. Rather than letting his older brothers feast on their regret in doing him wrong, Joseph moved out of kindness and helped them (Gen. 45:5).
To be a person of integrity
I wonder, would you have been able to do the same thing? Be honest with yourself when answering that question.
Have you ever done something to someone that hurt your soul and you’ve come to regret it? How does it sit with you when you have wronged somebody?
When we grieve the Holy Spirit, it cries out to us! Why? Because the Holy Spirit desires to move in holiness and righteousness and it grieves when we move in another direction. You see, this is why Paul encouraged us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God! This is why he encouraged us to live by a different set of principles and values than our old ways.
In order for us to move with the integrity of Joseph, we need to let the Spirit guide us in the divine truth of the Lord. In the beginning of Ephesians 4, we will see where Paul calls on believers to walk worthy of the calling with which we were called. The principles we are to love by is with lowliness and gentleness; we are to bear with each other in love (Eph. 4:1-2).
How can my brother ever succeed if I am so busy trying to tear him down when he needs help? How could I ever succeed if my brother is so busy trying to tear me down when he sees that I need his help? We have to consider the kind of values we are living by when we refuse to help others fulfill their dreams. We despise the oppressor, but sadly many of us have become that as we hate on others as they strive to grow, succeed, and prosper!
Don’t you become the oppressor and hurt your soul and the souls of others! As you have heard me say over and over again, we are to lift each other to new heights regardless of how they may treat us. If you desire to move with integrity, rather than bitterness, Paul said to us, “let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor (Eph. 4:25).” Lying, no matter how big or how “small” will do nothing but hurt your soul.
Paul then said, “be angry, and do not sin (Eph. 4:26) … let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers (Eph. 4:29).” What would I look like as a spiritual leader, and most importantly, a child of God if corrupt words are coming out of my mouth?
Jesus said, “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matt. 12:34).” Corrupt words come from corrupt thoughts within, and corrupt thoughts lead to corrupt actions. In the end, you’re doing nothing but hurting your soul and the soul of those around you. Nothing but good should pour out the heart of believers because we abide by God’s word. As you often hear me encourage, I will encourage again — let us do better, let us be better; move by faith and with integrity to uplift this world.