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John Piper

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Battling the Unbelief of Bitterness

We overcome the dangers of anger by allowing God to be our avenger.

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One pastor confided in me that he gets angry very easily and he often feels a lot of anger inside that his people don't recognize because of his ability to keep up a good front. I think he was speaking for a lot of us. A lot of people are angry and keep it corked inside and it ferments. Other people are different than that. They blow off as soon as anything happens to them. Others turn red in the face and grip the edge of the chair and their knuckles turn white. Others become sullen and very quiet in a group and just kind of slink back out of sight. Others become very caustic and cutting with their tongue when they are angry. Whatever way you handle or respond to this rising thing called anger, it's a universal experience; and everybody has to learn to deal with it one way or the other, and most of our anger is not good.

The Bible warns us about the dangers of anger

Now I base that on James 1 where it says: Be slow to anger, for the anger of man does not work the righteousness of God. In other words, be slow to anger because most of our anger is a lot of man and very little God and does nobody any good and brings no glory to God. Most of our anger is like that, but not all of it.

Jesus was a man without sin. And according to Mark 3:5 he was in the synagogue and it says: He looked out upon them with grief, angered at their hardness of heart. And he committed no sin. And in Psalm 7:11 it says: God is angry every day. And in Ephesians 4:26 it says, "Be angry and yet do not sin."

So I conclude not all anger is bad. In fact, some anger is very good. If it weren't there, something would be wrong with us, morally wrong. It's right and it's justified. But mainly the Bible warns against anger. The Bible is very suspicious of our capacity ...

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John Piper is pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, radio speaker for "Desiring God," and author of Desiring God (Multnomah).

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