Is it a sin to talk negatively about someone or something in our journal?

Is it a sin to talk negatively about someone or something in our journal to express anger and frustration??


Hi @brianna,

I’m sorry it took a few days to respond to your excellent question.

The title doesn’t suggest that it would address your question, but I talk about this exact issue in this video:

As another answer, consider the Psalms. These are God-authorized prayers. Yet, they contain some extremely harsh words against other people.

The challenging question is: how do we understand this?

One option is: it’s okay to blast other people, God approves of my hatred!

But I think a better choice is this: It’s okay to be emotionally honest with God, because God wants to have true intimacy with me, and invites me to be real with him. As I express my actual feelings to God, I will gain wisdom on how to engage with people who have hurt me.

I look forward to learning from you and others as we discuss this together.


Hi @brianna, welcome to the community! Whatever happened, I’m sorry for the pain, anger, and frustration you’re feeling praying that you may experience God’s comfort, healing, and justice.

This is a difficult question, and I would love to hear your thoughts and what others think about it too! I wrote most of my thoughts over the weekend, so I haven’t watched @Carson’s video yet, but I’m excited to check it out when I get home.

From my understanding right now, I would say that it depends.

On the one hand, there are some pretty intense things that John the Baptist (Matt 3:7-11), Jesus (Matt 21:12-13), and Paul (Particularly Gal 3:1-5 and Gal 5:12) said toward others.

Yet on the other hand, we are called to bless rather than curse those who persecute us (Rom 12:14-21), warned of the danger of anger and the importance of reconciliation (Matt 5:21-26) and called to “put away anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk” and to “put on compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive,” (Col 3:5-17, specifically Col 3:8, 12-13; see also Eph 4:1-6, 25-27).

Though journaling is obviously different from actually saying the words to others, I think there is a danger - at least that I have fallen into at times - to justify the journaling as venting or processing, but in reality to treat it as a way of incubating and growing the bitterness, frustration and anger so that we end up strengthening the wrath and malice we feel rather than putting it away.

To me, choosing to dwell on anger in that manner, purposefully growing the bitterness and devaluing the other person (rather than seeing them as made in the image of God), would fall into the sins described in Matthew 5, Colossians 3, and Ephesians 4.

However, there are so many cries for justice in prayer throughout the Bible (Psalm 94:1 - 23; Habakkuk 1:1-4 as just two of many examples) and - as in the earlier passages looking at John, Jesus, and Paul’s words - behaviors and teachings that need to be confronted. So, in this way, bringing that anger to God in journaling and prayer can be so good and healing!

God cares deeply about justice; when we are treated wrongly, that matters. Yet it is also something we can entrust to Him (Rom 12:19) and, in the midst of it, we can remember that God has forgiven us so that we can remember His compassion and work towards showing compassion and forgiveness to others.

So, for me I think it comes down to the attitude and motivation of the journaling. Some helpful questions to think through in discerning whether a particular time of journaling is sinful or not might be these:

  • Am I working toward healing or toward growing anger and increasing bitterness?
  • Am I bringing the issue to God and trusting Him to bring justice or am I taking the condemnation of this person into my own hands?
  • Am I treating this person as someone made in the image of God or as someone without worth?

I hope these are helpful things to think through and I look forward to hearing what others think on this topic as well!


That’s so helpful for all situations and relationships. Thank you for this practical wisdom, Blake.