To “grieve the Holy Spirit” is to do things that are not in alignment with Him. To act apart from God’s best for us. To flee from the spark of divinity within us and seek our own way.
Everything on this list (from Ephesians 4:30-31) is about seeking our own way. Bitterness is the quiet whisper that tells us how right we are and how wrong, even malicious, everyone else is, secretly building an out-of-control narrative based on our bias rather than truth. Rage and anger are about justifying our narrow understanding/experience with a circumstance rather than addressing it with forgiveness and grace. Brawling and slander are ways to attack others, projecting that which is disfigured within us.
All these forms of malice separate us from God’s best for us. So, Paul pleads, get rid of them all.
When we are disappointed by circumstances, we are often looking for who to blame. And God gets to the top of our list, eventually. In an effort to punish God for disappointing us, we disappoint Him. And the grief is a fracture between us and our true beloved.
We can just as easily make the other choice. The better choice. To trust in God unlocks within us the person God has created us to be, the person we really want to be.
The Holy Spirit has been sealed with us. That means The Holy Spirit is with us, part of us, partnered with us in this journey. We only have two choices – align with Him in joy or press against Him in grief. Neither choices will directly change all circumstances into what we want them to be. But when we align with the Holy Spirit, we take on the power of perspective, the power to transcend circumstances.