What Does it Mean to Grieve the Holy Spirit?

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“And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” – Ephesians 4:30

Ephesians 4 starts off with a discussion of unity. Paul makes it very clear that it is the Holy Spirit who unites us in Christ,

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – 4:2-6

Next, Paul tells us that Jesus Christ also assists our unity by giving us grace (4:7) and gifts (4:11) for the purpose of attaining unity (4:13). This kind of Holy Spirit and Jesus initiated unity requires us to live different than we used to live (4:17-32). In the middle of those instructions Paul tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Here is that verse (4:30) in the midst of the surrounding verses,

29 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. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

How does one grieve the Holy Spirit? By breaking unity with fellow believers. The Spirit is at working making us united in Christ. When we speak with unwholesome words, failing to build each other up…when our lives are filled with bitterness, rage and anger…we grieve the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit isn’t grieved by the same things that often grieve us. The Spirit is grieved when we fail to live in unity with each other because the Spirit has worked so hard to create and maintain that unity in us. The next time you are at odds with your brother or sister in Christ, consider what affect that has on the Spirit who is in us all, uniting us in Christ.

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