Why Are There So Many Angry and Bitter Christians?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Iwould imagine most of us have met Christians who are just angry and have a bitter spirit in them, so why are so many Christians angry and bitter today?

Righteous Indignation

I would imagine most of us have met Christians who are angry and have a bitter spirit in them. They tend to see everything in a negative light while failing to see the many blessings they’ve been given by God, so why are so many Christians angry today? Why are so many believers bitter about life and bitter to others? Anger in and of itself is not inherently evil. Jesus Himself showed anger when He cleansed the Temple of thieves and robbers, but that was a righteous anger or indignation. He had every right to be angry. They were robbing those who came to make sacrifices in the temple, and much worse, so Jesus was indignant about these despicable practices that the Jewish leaders had permitted. They were profaning the Temple of God, so if we see a child getting hurt, we have every right to have righteous anger or indignation and stop that abuse, however, we must remember to watch our anger. Before you get angry, we must remember to “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19b). Just watching the evening news and all the violence that’s sweeping across our nation (and others) proves that, “the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).

Bitter Spirits

The Apostle Peter mentioned someone who had a bitter spirit in them in the Book of Acts. It was Simon the Magician. He was bitter or had a covetous heart, but later, he was very afraid after Peter told him, “I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). What he is saying is, when we’re living in bitterness, we’re bound in sin or iniquity, that iniquity being bitterness or anger. The Apostle Peter saw that Simon’s bitterness was over coveting the Apostles miracles done through God’s Spirit. That’s when Simon begged Peter to “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon men” (Acts 8:24). God takes bitterness very seriously and sees it as grumbling against Him. We know how that turned out for ancient Israel, wandering about in the Wilderness for forty years! When they grumbled against Moses, they were actually grumbling against God (Ex 16:2; Num 14:2). The Author of Hebrews instructs believers to “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled” (Heb 12:15). No true believer continues to be hateful, angry, and discontent with life, day in and day out. That’s the way the world lives, having no hope. It should not be so for us. Of course, we’ll occasionally lose our temper, but it’s not the general order of things in our life. Rather, it is the exception.

Discontentment

I’ve heard that we all have a choice in life. We can choose to live in one of two tents. The tent of “discontentment” is where nobody there is happy…or the other tent…the tent of “contentment,” but contentment must be learned. That was Paul’s experience. He had to learn how to be content in life through sufferings, and as usual, it’s learned the hard way. He wrote, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Phil 4:12). For the Apostle Paul, it wasn’t about having a glass half empty or a glass half full. He was thankful he even had a glass!

Anger

Anger is useful in the right place and under the right circumstances, like we are obligated to stop suffering if we see someone being harmed…even if it’s to call 911, but anger can overwhelm us and get us into deep trouble very quickly. Many are sitting in prisons today due to an angry outburst, so Scripture instructs us to “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil” (Eph 4:26-27).  There are times it’s okay to be angry, but we had better not let it linger very long. Get it resolved quickly, otherwise that anger can take root and give the devil a foothold, or give him an opportunity to use that anger in an ungodly way. There are many things in life that we cannot change, so it’s pointless to be angry over things we can’t do anything about. Those things we can only pray about.

Put it Away

We may not be able to change circumstances…but we can change how we react to circumstances. Husbands are commanded to “love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col 3:19), regardless of the situation, but all believers are commanded to “put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Pet 2:1). The Apostle Paul was even fearful “that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (2 Cor 12:20). I don’t wish to find any of those attributes in the Body of Christ. None of those reflect the glory of Christ!

Conclusion

God warns us to not let any bitterness or anger linger in us (Eph 4:26-27). We must repent of it and confess it to God. The Apostle Paul admonishes us, writing, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Eph 4:31). To put it away means you must be intentional. Give up all that bitterness and anger to God, for He alone can help you conquer it (Matt 11:28-30).

Here is some related reading for you: Bible Verses to Help You Control Your Anger

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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