James 1:19-20, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this. Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”
One of the most difficult verses in the bible to hear and follow. We all get angry sometimes, and we all say things we shouldn’t in that moment of anger. Hurtful, hateful things that should never be uttered. Many of us don’t live in anger daily, we just have moments of irritation or frustration that hit us.
There are many, however, that do live in a constant state of anger and bitterness. Their entire lives revolve around the need to lash out in hate and rage. Maybe something terrible has happened to them in the past. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to go through life with the burden of being constantly angry and bitter resting upon their shoulders. Maybe it is a result of someone else’s harsh words. I don’t know what causes it, but I know it can’t be fun to live your life trapped in anger and bitterness. I’ve been avoiding news outlets and social media a lot lately, simply because I’m overwhelmed by all the anger and bitterness I see posted. I’m shocked by the things people say to one another, simply because they have a different point of view. I’m staggered by the amount of judgement passed on others because they think differently from someone else. I’m amazed, that in our oh so modern culture, we still have a horrendous number of people bullying others if they express a thought that doesn’t match theirs. The anger, the hatred, the bitterness, it leads me to believe that there is a lot of work going on in this world by the enemy. The enemy is trying his best to drive people apart. You see, a broken culture starts with broken relationships. Broken relationships start with anger and bitterness.
Are you one of those people who lives trapped in a bubble of bitterness on a daily basis? Let me ask you a question…how has living an angry and bitter life helped you? How has it contributed one drop of anything positive in your life? Has it helped your health in any way? I would take a guess and say that, if anything, it’s actually hurt your health. The stress caused by anger and bitterness can do enormous damage to your health and body. Have you slept any better at night because of anger and bitterness? I seriously doubt it. Has it helped your relationships with your spouse or significant other, your children, parents, siblings, family and friends. I doubt that as well. I know for me personally, if I have a friend who lives in constant anger and bitterness, I’m going to separate myself from them. I still love them and pray for them, but I will not allow myself to be dragged down into that bitterness with them.
So, we know that it’s not helping you, but who, exactly is that anger and bitterness hurting? Is it hurting the person who hurt you? Do they even KNOW the resentment you hold toward them? Do they go home at night upset because you are angry with them? Or do they even care? Let’s face it, they probably either don’t know or care, so it’s not really hurting them. The only person it’s hurting is you. It’s hurting your health. It’s hurting your relationships. It’s hurting your soul. You have to let go of all that hurt, anger and bitterness. I know, it’s not easy, but for your own sake, you have to do it.
How, you ask? You must turn it over to God. You must forgive the person who hurt you. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s necessary for your own wellbeing and happiness. You can’t truly be happy and filled with joy until you learn to forgive. Forgive them and release it all to God, you will be amazed at how your life can be transformed. Imagine..no longer having to bear the weight of all that rage, anger and bitterness. Imagine being free to laugh, free to love, free to be all you are called to be. You can’t live a joyful life, you can’t fulfill your purpose until you let go of the past, forgive those who have hurt you (whether they ask you to or not, whether they care or not), ask God to forgive YOU for holding on to that bitterness for so long, and follow the path He has laid out for you.
I’m going to issue a challenge now. Give it one day. One whole day, to not say anything negative, angry or bitter. When you open your mouth, let it only be positive words that come out. If you can’t think of anything positive, just try keeping your mouth closed, it’s really not that hard. Give it one day, then see how you feel when you lay your head down that night. Maybe, just maybe, you will sleep a little better. Maybe, it will help you to see that bitterness is a virus that needs to be out of your life. Maybe it will help you seek God to overcome that anger, to release it and live the joyful life He wants for you.
Ephesians 4:26, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.”
Colossians 3:13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”
Ephesians 4:31, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”