The difference between bitterness and anger is a tightrope walk. I’ve never tried the tightrope, but to be honest, I’m not that good at walking.
I’ve found there’s a fine line to walk with anger because it can so easy to dip into bitterness. No one likes being bitter and it can take me a while to realize I’m not angry anymore, but instead I’ve moved into bitterness.
When my anger lasts too long it evolves into bitterness and that monster is scary. I can deny it for a time, but eventually my bitterness rears its ugly head.
Even though I’m walking this tightrope between anger and bitterness, anger isn’t the problem. To say anger is an emotion I should be rid of is like saying I can’t eat or sleep, it’s a part of my life.
People hurt us and we get angry. There are injustices in the world and sometimes the only correct emotion is anger. But when we move into bitterness we are deciding to stay angry and that’s not a good response. Instead, we need to learn to move on from our anger.
In John chapter 2 Jesus gets angry in the temple.
But Jesus never lets his anger make the sharp turn toward bitterness. Bitterness is the next turn on the road of anger, but true to his character Jesus takes a detour away from bitterness.
His anger leads to a new destination. It moves towards love. Later Jesus goes to the cross and dies for the same people who were making him angry in the temple.
When I read how Jesus uses his anger it makes me think, “Do I do the same?” or “Do I let bitterness take over?”
What follows my anger is bitterness, simply because it’s the easy path. It’s the next turn on the road of anger. It takes more force to move toward love than it does to go toward bitterness.
Anger isn’t something I can avoid but I can change how I act toward the person who made me angry.
Like most things in life the easiest path isn’t the one Jesus decided to take. If I want to be following Jesus I will have to take the rocky, overgrown, path. This is where Jesus likes to spend most of His time.
The trampled down, neatly trimmed, and frequently traveled path is the way to bitterness. And bitterness only leads to more pain.
Anger doesn’t have to lend its way to bitterness. Jesus makes the move towards love. Following Jesus is difficult but I can’t abandon the way of Jesus just because it takes more work. The hardest things in life are often the most rewarding. The difficult way is often the right one.
Jesus didn’t just refuse to become bitter but he went to the cross for the people he was angry with in the temple. He chose love instead.
How can I take this different road to love instead of becoming bitter?
By seeing the person who makes me angry as someone Jesus died for, just the same as me. When I see someone like that I can see past their imperfections and try to love them just like Jesus does.
When I allow bitterness to move out love can move in. Tweet This
Love and bitterness can’t be in the same room.
So let love take the place of bitterness.