Battling Unbelief – Bitterness Daily Devotion

Scripture: Romans 12:17-21

Everybody has to deal with anger one way or the other—it is a universal experience, and most of it is not good. I base that on James 1:19-20 which says, “Be slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God.” We should learn how to be slow to anger because what comes quickly is usually tainted by unrighteousness. It’s simply human rather than being godly.

But we know that not all anger is bad. Jesus was a man without sin, yet it says in Mark 3:5, “He looked around at them with anger grieved at their hardness of heart.” And Psalm 7:11 says, “God is angry every day.” And Paul says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and sin not.” Not all anger is bad. Some is good and right and necessary.

But mainly the Bible warns us against the dangers of anger. “Be slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). “Put away all anger and wrath and malice” (Colossians 3:8). “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor . . . be put away from you with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). “Now the works of the flesh are plain: . . . strife, jealousy, anger . . . ” (Galatians 5:20). “Every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment” (Matthew 5:22).

You can see from that last warning that anger is very dangerous. If it takes root in your heart and becomes a grudge or an unforgiving spirit, it can destroy you. That’s the point of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 18 about the unforgiving servant: after having his massive debt cancelled by the king, he refuses to cancel the tiny debt of his friend. And so the king throws him into jail for his heartlessness. Jesus closes the parable with this warning in verse 35: “So also will my heavenly Father do to every one of you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

Anger is very dangerous. It can take over your heart, turn into a lasting grudge, or an unforgiving spirit, and the result will be judgment. Jesus said very plainly in Matthew 6:15, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” To feel the weight of that warning let’s put it in three parts:

1. No one goes to heaven unforgiven by God. Heaven is a place given only to forgiven

sinners.

2. No one is forgiven who is unwilling to be forgiving.

3. No one goes to heaven who is unforgiving.

Jesus treats anger the way he treats lust. If you don’t fight lust, you don’t go to heaven (Matthew 5:29). If you don’t forgive others, you won’t get to glory (Matthew 6:15).

John Piper

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