Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
CS-8 Anger & Bitterness
Our mental attitudes reflect our choices. And our free will is able to set the tone for our attitudes.
If we are an angry person it is probably because someone has disappointed us. Some imperfect person has let us down. It’s not our fault they are imperfect. It’s not their fault they are imperfect. So is it God’s fault that he has allowed imperfect sinful people to come into our lives? Oh, but wait. I’m not perfect and sinless either, am I?
How can I let go of my anger when imperfect people surround me? And how can I let go of my anger when my imperfections remind me of my own failures. I would have to admit I disappoint myself way more than others disappoint me.
Billy Graham wrote in one of his books that “Every destructive emotion bears its own harvest, but anger’s fruit is the most bitter of all.” The Journey, p.178
We can chose to live angry every day, but where will that get us? It will wreak havoc on our physiological and mental health not to mention our spiritual well being.
There is a character in the Bible we all know. His name was Moses. Moses had an anger management problem.
In this passage we see the complaining and griping of the children of Israel. They were without water and they began to complain to Moses about their circumstances. They blamed Moses for leading them out into the wilderness where they all thought they were going to die. Most of the children of Israel were negative toward God’s commandments and subsequently they were negative and rebellious toward God’s servant Moses.
If Moses would have controlled his emotions he would have remembered it was the Lord who sent him into this wilderness.
P/D Where the Lord guides he provides. His omniscience is backed by his omnipotence.
Moses and Aaron went before the Lord and prayed. The Lord appeared before them and told them to speak to the rock before the eyes of the people, and water would come from the rock. We all know the picture the Holy Spirit is painting here. We need to turn to the water of life and that water is only found in the Rock of life; Jesus Christ.
But Moses blamed himself for his own inadequacies, and when the people failed him he thought they did it because he was such a failure as a leader. He resented being blamed for their misery. Moses eventually let the children of Israel’s misery become his misery. He took his eyes off of the Lord’s promises and focused on the problem instead.
The Lord told Moses to speak to the rock, but instead as we see in v.10 he spoke to the people, and he spoke in anger. If he would have followed the Lord’s instructions he too would have gone across the Jordan into the promised land. He was supposed to point the people to God’s solution which is Jesus Christ. Instead he focused on the failures of the people rather than the promises of God. He too was caught up in the blame game, only he wasn’t blaming his misery on his thirst, he was blaming his misery on their complaining.
The servant of the Lord has to be someone who controls his temper. According to
I Tim.3:2-3 the pastoral candidate must have the qualifications of one who is sober minded, of good behavior... he must not be a violent man... he must not be one ready to brawl, unless he wants an entire church of violent brawlers who want to pick a fight with everyone in whom they disagree.
Notice also in Num.20:10 where Moses called the people, rebels.
The Hebrew word for rebels here is mara, and it means to be disobedient, to be bitter.
Moses let their bitterness make him bitter. The book of Hebrews 12:15 warns us that we can become defiled by those who have become bitter.
Modern psychiatrists say bitter behavior goes a step further than anger. Some have called it a mental illness. Embittered people are seething for revenge. They don’t want to let go of this bitterness until they have acted on it. Instead of seeing this as blatant sin, however, it is now considered to be a disorder modeled after post-traumatic stress disorder. It is now being called post traumatic embitterment disorder. A change of heart would do wonders for these people, but now they are being given a label to some how justify their unhappy lives.
The Septuagint uses bitterness, pikros, figuratively as something or someone who has soured. Just three days after the children of Israel escaped through the Red Sea, where they were saved from Pharaoh and certain death they came to the waters at Marah and they could not drink it because it was just like them, it was bitter, it was sour, Ex.15:22-23.
We are in control of our emotions and our attitudes. Our circumstances are not much different than those around us, and yet we may think everyone is getting the breaks that we are not getting. We need to stop looking at what is going on in the lives of others and thank the good Lord for all he has given to us.
A thankful attitude will go a long way in us getting a handle in dealing with anger and bitterness.
CS 8 Anger & Bitterness
We are looking at the sin and emotion of anger, and our responsibility as Christians to handle our anger. Anger is like heat. It can serve a lot of purposes, but too much of it can burn us. A stove is needed to cook our food, but too much heat and the food is burned. The sun is needed to warm our earth, but too much of it and it will scorch it.
Not only must we handle our anger but we must know how to avoid the sinful angry bitter infection that we can speak with our anger? The answer I believe is the same as God’s instructions to Moses; speak to the Rock, Num.20:8. Think before you speak, especially if you are angry. Think of the implications of your speech and your actions.
Avoid the entanglement of speaking first to the situation. Speak to the Rock. Ask the Lord to let the water of the Word refresh you. When you do you will not defile others with your sinful anger, and likewise you will not let the defilement and bitterness of others stick to you. This takes discipline and if you have a bad temper you will have to try a lot harder than some. The reality is that things don’t always go according to our plans, and God knows this. But when things do not go our way we cannot afford to resort to the sin of anger, thinking that anger and bitter feelings will change things. God will never justify any sin in our lives, but rather He will judge it with discipline.
In eternity past God saw the situations which may lead us to anger and bitterness and he provided the means of faith to see the bright side of things. The Bible says, vengeance is the Lord’s and he will repay to others the evil they do to us. This does not mean we do not stand up for ourselves, our family and friends, and our country, but it does mean we do not let sin stain our testimony as God’s children.
Resident Bible doctrine reminds us of the faithfulness of God. We see from the past how God saw us through tough times. Why wouldn’t he be just as faithful in our present circumstances? The answer is, He will be.
Moses’ anger was really with God because all sin is primarily directed toward our Perfect God. Resentment and bitterness can set in when things do not go right for us.
Hatred, jealously and envy over the successes or alleged better circumstances of others often accompanies our anger. We seem to think everyone has it better than we do. We can become so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget God has us in his hands and all we need we can go to him for it. But we want more. And we want to be treated like we are number one, but so does everyone else and this is where the battles in life get started. Keep God at the forefront of your thoughts at all times; confess your sins as soon as you commit them, and you will see sin diminish its tight grip on your thoughts and emotions, and you will witness every thought being brought into captivity to the obedience of Jesus Christ,
We need not ask, “why does God have to be so perfect and why does he set the standard so high for us regarding our attitudes and our behavior? The answer is that God can set no other standard but the highest standard. God can only demand of us what is best for us. As believers our heavenly Father expects us to reflect his divine parental instructions. Would we want an imperfect God who could fail us, who could become angry and bitter and turn his back on us because we disappoint him? I think not.
Anger is a part of life so none of us must deny its existence in us. This anger can be indignant anger over a wrong doing, where it does not bleed over into sin.
The Bible word for this kind of anger is orge. However, this anger can become sinful if we let it go too far, Eph.4:26.
There is also that lightning strike kind of anger that comes out of no where and then it is gone. This is known in the Greek as thumos anger. It is highly emotionally charged and it is usually absent of much thought as to the consequences. Then there is parorgismos anger. This is the slow seething calculating kind of anger that takes pleasure in wallowing in self pity. It seeks and savors revenge. It may lie dormant for quite some time.
The anger of God is always righteous and without sin. It is his displeasure in the unrighteous acts of men and fallen angels.
John 2:13-17 - When the money changers were in the Temple selling sacrifices for a profit to the people to use in worship our Lord became angry at the sight. He made a whip out of small cords and drove them out, turning over the tables. His anger was justifiable and righteous. He knew the hearts of these men. He was angry and sinned not.
Our Lord’s anger was driven by his love for the Father and his love for mankind. When he saw an injustice he became angry. As one author states his point, “Love by its very nature is antagonistic to everything that is evil and works injury to life. In every case Christ’s anger was the anger of love and grief.” Meditations for Happy Christians, p.14
Anger can be constructive at making a point, but anger can also be one of the most volatile sins.
This particular sin gets its jet fuel from our emotions and our hormones. Anger can be displayed like lighting a match to a can of gasoline, or it can erupt at other times like a volcano. You see the smoke; you hear the rumbling and you know the top is coming off sooner or later and you don’t want to be any where near when it does.
The Bible says “A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger..Prov.15:1.
Ecc.7:5 “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry; for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.”
Often anger swells up in us and we do not wait to get the facts. The sin nature looks for situations to manipulate our emotions to set off the explosion of anger. Our sin nature doesn’t want us to think, only to get back at something or someone who does us wrong. Our sin nature always seeks a survival mode which exalts us and puts down others.
Bitter anger recoils in such a manner that it not only lashes out and hurts others, it hurts us too.
Be aware of this emotion. Watch for its symptoms of irritation, frustration, moodiness and so on. Stop and ask yourself why you are feeling this way and remember God is still in control of the universe. Cast your cares on him and he will be glad to take them.
CS 8 Anger & Bitterness
I Sam.18:1-12; 20:30-35
King Saul’s disobedience toward the Lord led to him loosing his position as king of Israel. He had become disrespectful toward Samuel the prophet and the priests. He became jealous of David and tried to kill him. And soon afterward his hatred was directed at his son Jonathan. Jonathan had formed a close friendship with David and then Saul tried to kill his own son Jonathan in a fit of jealous rage.
Anger can be displayed in many ways, such as; throwing a tantrum, excessive venting, negative put downs, setting everybody straight, withdrawn sulking, gossiping, excessive blaming, over eating, under eating, pulling pranks, suicidal thoughts, drug and alcohol use, paranoia, resentment, martyr’s complex, bad humor, anti authority rebellion, and lets not forget Simon dikaios, the righteous one who knows it all who has an answer for everything. We can show our anger in these ways and we can hide our anger in some of these ways. Our subject regarding anger is a serious subject.
People do not listen to our life stories, they watch them. They do not hear our testimony, they see our testimony.
At some time we have all flunked the, over the top sinful anger control tests, that life presents to us. So now we need to get a handle on this emotion before it turns to sin.
Let’s break anger down.
Anger is composed of three parts: spoken words, tone of voice and even our bodily expressions. One licensed counselor says anger is 7% word, 55% non-verbal behavior such as facial expression, arm and body movement, and body position, and 38% is tone and inflection of voice in how things are said. You see, the 7% may be fact, but the rest is our expression of that fact. This is the part where we usually go over the top, and this is the part most people are affected by.
I spoke in our first lesson from Heb.12:12 that this believer had been corrected by the Lord and instead of him lifting up his head and his hands as an expression of gratitude for God squaring him away by setting him back on the straight and narrow, he lowered his head and hung his arms as a bodily expression of resentment for God getting on him. He was failing the grace of God and he didn’t want God setting him straight. So we see there is something to our bodily expressions.
If we say something good, but we say it in a disingenuous way we convey more toward how we said something than what we said. Being sober minded as the Bible commands us means we are genuine. If we see ourselves any other way we need to look at why we are acting the way we are. We need to see why we feel the way we feel. If we look disgusted we need to know why. Little annoyances in life add up and if we do not have a relaxed mental attitude of virtue/character love, those little things will trigger unhealthy emotions in us, especially sinful anger, which God is going to deal with.
If we hide from our problems we do not solve them and if they lay dormant they will take root and anger and bitterness will be the result. We may show this anger and bitterness in many ways. No amount of wealth or power can wash away hidden anger.
The physical stress brought on by anger and bitterness can be life threatening. Our bodies can become the dumping grounds for stress and toxic hormones associated with mental attitude sins.
Everything from hypertension to headaches to hemorrhoids to gastrointestinal problems to skin disorders, grinding of the teeth, impotence and even for some the point of death can come upon us as a result of unhealthy emotions stemming from having a bad mental attitude.
We have already looked at how King David suffered many of these things due to unconfessed sin in his life.
You can have the best of things like Solomon had and still say as he did, “Better is a dinner of herbs [vegetables] where there is love than a stalled ox [steak] and hatred therewith, Prov.15:17. You see, you can be poor and still be happy.
He also said “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.” Prov.15:13. When the spirit is broken the body suffers. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.” Prov.13:12.
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” Prov.16:24. You see, it is not only what others say that affects us, so does what we say affect our health.
Our attitudes cannot be enslaved to the insults and disagreements we have or have had with others. We cannot allow the imperfections of others or ourselves to steal away the only days on earth we have. It is obvious God does not want us going off to some kind of convent or monastery and hiding away for the rest of our lives. God wants us out among society living for Christ and showing Christ in our lives to others.
God also does not want us mentally and emotionally crawling back into some corner of our minds and hiding our resentments and hatred for what others may have done to us. We must not allow people, or circumstances to become our lords. These things are not good lords. If we avoid getting to Bible class we will never get over our sin problems. And if we do make it to Bible class we had better let the word of God do its good work in us.
Being a Christian is a lot more than doing stuff around the church or the community. It is being conformed into the image of Christ and this starts first in our thoughts. When we are what God wants us to be, then the things we do will be the things God wants us to do. God is always more interested in what we are than in what we do.
If we fall victim to our anger we can blame no one but ourselves. Let’s not allow this to happen.
CS 8 Anger & Bitterness
We spoke in our last lesson about King Saul. Did you know he committed suicide, and most Bible scholars believe he was a believer? But even believers can commit suicide. “Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States. Among college students, it is the second leading cause of death; for high school students, it rates third, and for those twenty-five to forty, it is fourth. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that well over twenty thousand persons die annually by their own hand.”
For every successful suicide up to ten times that amount are unsuccessful, thank the Lord.
Suicide is the ultimate in handling our problems. Most people who commit suicide have a great deal of anger. They are angry enough over their circumstances to kill themselves.
Anger can show it self in forms of mental illness. A girl in a mental hospital hadn’t spoken in twelve years, not since her fiancé had broken up with her. She was so angry it actually triggered a mental shut down. Many forms of depression are closely associated with angry frustrations. Some doctors say suicide and many mental illnesses are methods of coping with life and its frustrations.
Personal love as we have studied before, can lead to wonderful times and wonderful relationships, but it can also lead to volatile courses of action, from murder to suicide. Many a young girl and boy have committed suicide over a strained or broken relationship. This is the story of Romeo and Juliet.
Your expectations of the other person when not met can lead to a crippling mental angst and even to violence. Police departments will tell you the most dangerous call they get is domestic disturbances, where fighting and throwing things is common. Police officer deaths are all too often the result of answering that call. The virtues of forgiveness, patience, self-control and understanding are desperately needed to combat the friction and frustrations we face everyday in our homes and our places of business, not to mention on our streets.
Too often we expect our loved ones to know our needs and our expectations without communicating these to them. When they fail us in these areas we can become angry and bitter and then resentment sets in. When King Saul became disappointed in his performance as the king of Israel, he became jealous of his general David, I Sam.18:5-9.
Saul’s resentment of David lead to angry outbursts. He even became afraid of David as noted in v.12. So many sins festered in Saul’s heart and it was through the portal of the emotion of anger that Saul showed his foul heart. He sought revenge by attempting to kill David and even his own son, Jonathan.
Some people seek revenge by claming up and not speaking for years. Do not think the silence you keep is healthy, either spiritually or physically. Every time that person or situation comes to mind or is spoken of a little dose of epinephrine or norepinephrine, better known as adrenalin or noradrenalin is pumped into your bloodstream through the sympathetic nervous system, the part of your nerves you do not control.
Other hormones in your body are triggered at the same time.
Fits of anger may induce the hypothalamus to send additional messages to your pituitary glands urging it to discharge some of its own exclusively manufactured hormones such as... growth hormone and this will send out chemical signals to the adrenal, sex, and thyroid glands and the pancreas as well.
Before you know it your body tissues are bathed in an excess of hormones when you become angry. Many folks take medication to anesthetize their symptoms but many of these symptoms are really anger management problems that could be corrected with a change of heart. We all could use God’s help in these areas because we all are subject to like passions and disappointments in life.
The maturing believer in Jesus Christ works on these issues every time he or she opens up the Bible; every time his or her pastor explains to them the word of God. The peace of God that passes all human understanding is a wonderful companion to accompany you and me during our daily lives. This peace is non existent in most people; especially the negative believer.
When we are grace oriented, that means we realize what we are before God and what we mean to God, we first look at our own lives when it comes to our attitudes and the expression of our emotions, in particular the emotion of anger. After all, anger is an emotion given to us by God, for we can clearly see from Scripture that God shows anger too. Ps.7:11 .. God is angry with the wicked every day...Deut.4:25 ... the Lord’s anger was provoked due to Israel’s idolatry.
God also shows a lot of other emotions as well. For us fallen men and women it is the sin nature that takes what God gave us for good, and turns it into bad. When we couple our sinful nature with perhaps the way we were raised; to our physical make up, and to our life circumstances, we can find many ways in which we may become enslaved to the emotion of anger. We must turn to God who gave us anger if we have let it get out of control, just as we have to turn to him to maintain control of other emotions and feelings when they get out of control. We have all sinned and have come short of the glory of God. When we can admit that we are on the road to spiritual and eventual physical healing in our lives. It is amazing at how well we rest at night, and how well we adapt to life’s pressures when we put our problems in the Lord’s hands. It is wonderful to see a happy Christian, today this is rare indeed, but it is possible.
CS8 Anger & Bitterness
We cannot overcome anger in and of itself. We are not meant to overcome anger no more than we are meant to overcome the affection for the ones we love. However, we can overcome the damaging results of, out of control anger, where anger either alienates us from others or from our true purpose in life as God has ordered it.
I have said several times in this study that the Bible preaches self-control. Self-control is temperance, a fruit of the Holy Spirit, Gal.5:22-23. It is the mark of a man or a woman of God. Eph.5:2 tells us we are to walk in love, v.8 says we are to walk as children of light... and v.15 says we are to walk upright, not as fools but as wise.
Walking confidently as happy balanced Christians takes self discipline and humility toward God. When we avoid, or ignore God’s word we stray from this balanced happy life and we pay our own way, which doesn’t go very far on the happiness scale.
If we want to get a handle on anger we will need to submit to the word of God. If we do God will develop within us our true sense of worth and this will lead to a personal sense of destiny.
True spiritual self esteem instills a personal sense of destiny in the believer that produces self discipline in all areas of life. You are not a slacker when it comes to your responsibilities. You do not feel a need to live beyond your finances. You do not feel a need to defend yourself all of the time, but if you must you keep the statements factual and to the point. You do not allow yourself to get pulled into another’s pit of misery and bitterness.
As a maturing Christian you realize you are the master of your own thoughts. You can give your thoughts over to God as your should, or you can let them be given over to the sin nature. You and you alone will choose to be angry most of the time or happy most of the time. If you are angry sometimes that is perfectly normal, but if you harbor the symptoms of chronic anger then you will come off as a bitter person. It will take time to overcome a self centered bitterness, but with proper edification you can become a content person. If you chose to sing, you will sing; if you chose to be thankful you will give thanks; and if you chose to submit yourself unto the Lord you will submit to the Lord, Eph.5:19-21.
When you are angry admit it. If it has turned into sinful thoughts, confess them immediately, then have a forgiving attitude if it was someone who made you angry. If forgiveness is anything, it is healing to the soul of an angry person. Forgiveness will prevent anger from becoming bitterness.
I am sure that by the time we finish these messages on handling our anger we will just be itching for something or someone to make us angry so we can practice all of the wise advise we have been given. Obviously this statement is a bit ludicrous. We will have more opportunities than we want to discover the wisdom God has for us in his word.
Go over the lessons and notes and try to put into practice what you have learned about controlling anger. Notice I said controlling anger, nor eliminating anger. That is not going to happen. Always remember when you become angry that you are under God’s authority and care. Here are some Bible passages to read and think over.
Ps.37:8; Ecc.7:9; Prov.15:17; 15;18; 25:28; 22:24-25; 16:32; 10:12; Col.3:8; Jm.1:19-20; Eph.4:31-32
Points to help us understand anger...
1. Anger is normal and not necessarily sinful, because anger comes from God.
2. Human anger may come from a wrong perception because no human can be 100% objective all the time, unlike God who always has all the facts.
3. Human anger often leads to sin, Eph.4:26.
4. Human anger can be used for good, II Tim.4:2.
Points to help us avoid unhealthy forms of anger...
1. Recognize anger as an easy door opener for sinning against God, Eph.4:31.
2. When at all possible think before acting, take a few good deep breaths, Prov.15:28.
3. Quickly confess any sin that comes out of anger.
4. Recognize any form of insult coming your way as an opportunity to honor God by your godly response, I Pet.4:14-19. If you want people to respect you show more self-control that they show. How do you represent yourself when you are tempted to go overboard with anger?
5. When people make you angry try to see things from their point of view before going off on them; in other words, get the facts first then respond in faith.
6. Study the Bible so you know the difference between righteous indignation and self-righteous indignation. Ex. I heard a radio preacher say he would rather be a legalist than be a liberal. I imagine a lot of his indignation was self righteous in type.
7. Face uncomfortable situations head on instead of retreating into your shell.
8. As much as possible, avoid difficult situations and people when you know they stir anger, Prov.22:24-25.
9. Do not allow your emotions to make a mountain out of a mole hill.
10. Avoid reminiscing over angry thoughts. This is where resentment breeds bitterness.
11. Speak the truth in love when you find yourself in conflict with others, let them know how you feel without all the drama
12. Give yourself over to the Holy Spirit’s control and desire to please God and see what God does with your life.
13. Preparation in all you do is a key component to eliminating the rise of unnecessary or perhaps sinful anger. Angry people are often unprepared for life, thus calamity befalls them quite often, Prov.16:1,3.
14. Eat healthy and get enough sleep. Chronically angry people are usually poor eaters and sleepers.
15. Stop the habit of procrastination
16. When you become angry know what it is you are angry about. Is your present anger displaced from the real hurt you feel from something else? Ex. If you’re angry somebody else got the promotion instead of you why would you go home and yell at your wife and kids?
17. Recognize anger as an opportunity to grow in Christian patience. Ex. Just as Joseph, was sold into slavery by his envious brothers, he had no ill will toward them. He realized he was in God’s hands and he was in Egypt for a reason God would show him. We too can adjust our attitudes toward God who will set the record straight in the end.
I pray these lessons help all of us to grow closer in our walk with the Lord and those he puts us in contact with.