All types of people have problems with anger. Has it ever happened to you? Anger is sometimes defined as “a strong feeling of displeasure.” Anger is a powerful emotion, so much so that it has been labeled a universal sin. A perfectly pleasant conversation can be ruined when your displeasure surfaces. A perfectly happy relationship can be damaged under the assault of a displeased person. And a perfectly good day can be spoiled because the boss comes in with “a strong feeling of displeasure.”

Anger is tricky because, unlike fear, the Scriptures say there is an appropriate time to be angry: “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). You can become enraged over the mistreatment of a child or an animal, and if it is within your power, you would move to put a stop to the situation.

The kind of anger that is kindled by the abuse of a helpless animal or child is not destructive. But anger that is buried or improperly expressed has lethal power. God calls that kind of anger bitterness and warns. “See to it that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).

You can test yourself for bitterness in two ways. First, listen to yourself. When you speak, do you make sarcastic, cutting or heated remarks about the person toward whom you have a “strong feeling of displeasure?” Whenever his or her name is mentioned, do you have something negative to say? Ask God to show you this truth about your life, he will identify some anger you need to deal with. Speech is the first visible indication you could have a bitterness problem.

The second test is to observe your own actions. You may not overtly attack the person with whom you are angry, but how about the many subtle ways of getting your point across? The silent treatment is one example. Your silence speaks volumes. So, in case you think other people don’t notice the tension your “displeasure” causes, think again. You may be priding yourself on the restraint you have shown in not attacking openly, but no matter how you may try to hide it, unresolved anger shows up like an advertising billboard.

Give yourself the bitterness test today. If you passed, great! If not, you have a choice to make. Get bitter or get better. God says you can pull up those roots. Get rid of them and move on.


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