How Do I Overcome Anger and Bitterness?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, September 22, 2014 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Anger is a very common human emotion. We’ve all gotten angry at some point in our lives - maybe even at some point every week, or every day. Merriam-Webster defines anger as, “a strong feeling of being upset or annoyed because of something wrong or bad; the feeling that makes someone want to hurt other people, to shout.” Continued experiences of anger make a person become bitter. I’m guessing we can all think of something in our lives, whether big or small, that we’re bitter about due to prolonged anger over the situation.

But what do we do with this anger and bitterness? As Christ followers, we need to follow Jesus’ example. Is anger a sin? Not in and of itself, but our reaction to that anger is often sinful. Jesus Himself got angry when He cleared the money changers out of the temple - go check out that story in John 2:13-22 for example. Jesus never sinned, so we know that anger itself is not sin. But it is a strong temptation to cause us to sin, so we need to be very careful about anger.

The Bible has many verses that warn against being angry. For a few examples, check out Proverbs 29:11, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Colossians 3:8, or Psalm 37:8-9.

In Proverbs 20:22, it says, “Do not say, ‘I’ll pay you back for this wrong!’ Wait for the Lord, and he will avenge you.” Often when we get angry or we’re bitter about a situation, we want to initiate some sort of revenge. We want to make that person pay for whatever they did to us that made us so angry! But what is God commanding us to do? Nothing! Trust that God will take care of the problem and punish that person as He deems fit. He is God and we are not.

Jesus tells us what to do in a situation like this in Matthew 5:38-42: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

Well, that’s a little counter-intuitive, isn’t it? If somebody slaps you on the right cheek, our human nature says to slap them back, not to let them slap you again! Why is Jesus telling us to do this? To trust in Him, that God will take care of that wrong for you. God is the ultimate judge.

Last week, we wrote about joy and happiness. We can (and should) have joy even in difficult times, because we know that God is in control and He uses those times to strengthen us. Anger and bitterness are similar to that - when we feel angry, we need to release that to God and allow Him to take care of the situation. When we take matters into our own hands and act out of our own anger or bitterness, we tend to mess things up even more. God, however, will work all things for His glory and His purposes (Romans 8:28).

So how do I overcome anger and bitterness? Give them to God, and let Him handle it. I guarantee you that God is bigger than any problem you have in your life, and He will handle it in the best way possible. It may not seem like the best to us in the short term, but it will be for the best in the long run.