James writes, “Do not deny your bitterness, jealousy, selfishness, or vain ambition. If you are in denial you are lying against the truth. The wisdom that comes from anger and bitterness is not from God but sensual, from sight not faith, and even demonic. For where bitterness, jealousy, selfishness or ambition exist there is disorder, confusion, and all sorts of evil manifested.” (OGV)
Bitterness is worse than anything.
I believe that unforgiveness has greater long term consequences that the original offenses against you. You must forgive. Make peacemaking a lifelong habit!
As I step into the muck and mire of the anger in your life, I’m not asking you to stay in an abusive relationship. I’m not saying that you haven’t experienced injustice. I am saying that you need to forgive.
The first step in forgiving is recognizing the truth that you are angry. That you need to forgive. Bitterness often insulates itself in your soul; it hides; you can’t or won’t admit it is there. Anger is insidious as we become familiar with it — we would rather it eat us up from the inside out than confess it.
Symptoms of anger …
- You have ‘bitter’ lists. Anger has a long and detailed memory. It remembers conversations from years past. Bitterness can recall every detail of an offence.
- You can’t control your temper. You inner anger temperature is always above normal but increasingly it fires up with little or no provocation. Has someone asked you recently, “Why did something so minor cause you to lose it?”
- You have a ‘spirit of poverty’. Anger creates a selfishness so intense that it melts generosity. I have watched bitterness turn encouragement in accusatory verbal assault. Those who used to give now focus on the offences committed against them. Have you ever said, “I’m not giving to that person or organizational anymore because ____________?”
- People start to avoid you. Challenge! Ask three close friends if they enjoy being around you as much as they did several years ago. Bitterness creates selfish communication and action patterns that ruin relationships.
- Your life is chaos. Bitterness and decisions based upon anger create disorder. Does something always go wrong? Is something constantly breaking? Do relationships turn to arguments? Unfaithfulness? People attacking you? Constant small irritants? The Bible teaches that forgiveness eliminates disorder restoring peace!!!!
The Book of James has the antidote for anger and bitterness, “Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you can be healed.” James 5:16 (NASB) Roots of illness are often embedded in anger. If you confess, if you forgive — healing will come.
- Call a friend … go over the above list and ask what is true about your life. Ask, listen, take notes, and leave. Don’t defend. Just go home and pray.
- After you have reviewed the list, with the same trusted friend, get together again and discuss what needs to be forgiven and what action steps you can take.