Read: Ephesians 4:25-32

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger . . . be put away from you. (v. 31)

We often think of wrath as a fiery emotion—being red in the face, shouting at the top of our lungs, threatening violence. But wrath can also be served ice-cold. Think of the stony heart of the servant in Jesus’ parable, who refused to forgive a debt even after he had been so generously forgiven.

Dante identified wrath as stemming from a perverted sense of justice, twisting a good desire into spite or vengeance. It is an unrighteous anger that assumes God-like infallibility. There are plenty of times when Christians are called to be angry—angry at injustice, or angry at the effects of sin in the world. But our anger must always be tempered with a knowledge of the great mercy God has extended to us.

Otherwise, we risk bringing down God’s wrath—an unsparing, unflinching judgment of our true, sinful condition—upon ourselves. Who of us could stand in the presence of the source of all justice, were it not for the blood of Jesus Christ?

It’s important to remember God’s mercy not just when we are angry with others, but also when we make ourselves the focus of our wrath. When we are destructively self-critical, we forget that God’s mercy extends as far as the east is from the west—including over us. —Jane Olson

As you pray, ask God to teach you to be merciful, and receive his mercy.

About the Author

Jane Olson is a college counselor and high school teacher. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.


I Am