In the laboratory of human emotions unresolved anger can simmer into a toxic mess. An unknown wordsmith adjusted the Malachy McCourt quote about resentment to explain the poisonous effects of anger on the person who won't deal with it.
Holding onto anger (Resentment) is like drinking poison and expecting the
other person to die.
These toxins, according to many in the Christian counseling community, are the root cause for approximately 50% of their client base. This is because brooding anger can be and usually is a catalyst in the production of grudges, resentment, bitterness, malice, maliciousness, animosity, hatred, spitefulness, revenge, and worse. Any of them can infect our relationships and contaminate the world around us. Even more, they can drag even the best of us into a life of personal misery.
Interestingly, the word "grudge" is mentioned only three times in the English Standard Version of the Bible. In one instance King David wrote about his enemies, who "drop trouble upon me, and in anger they bear a grudge against me" (Psalm 55:3, ESV). Mark's Gospel mentions that Herodius "had a grudge against" John the Baptist and wanted him put to death. The third is in Leviticus 19:18, the Law given to the people of Israel by God---"You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord". Each of them indicates the deadly potential of holding grudges against another person.
The New Testament speaks of the other cognates of a poisonous grudge.
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Ephesians 4:31, ESV
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.
Hebrews 12:15, ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21, ESV
So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.
1 Peter 2:1, ESV
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
Matthew 15: 18-19, ESV
But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.
Colossians 3:8, ESV
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.
Titus 3:3, ESV
And, of course, there are many others. These are referenced because they illustrate the poisonous reality of lingering anger and the many toxins that can make us bitter and malicious and pollute our relationships. It's a long list too, these venomous emotions---
envy, jealousy, deceit, slander, gossip, strife, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, wrath, hatred, and even murder. The "root of bitterness" in many of these is unresolved anger.
Jesus explained that the second great commandment is "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31, ESV). What a powerful truth when thinking about grudges, resentment, and bitterness. When anger is resolved, our relationship with others is redemptive and forgiving. This is because it is redemptive and forgiving of self.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32, ESV
It begins with Christ forgiving me. It's the only cure for the toxicity that can ruin life.
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