Day 14: Anger
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
Children often breathe their parents’ second-hand anger. At my son’s back-to-school night, I noticed one student’s artwork with the entire page scribbled in red crayon.
The teacher asked, “What’s that a picture of?”
The little boy answered, “It’s my daddy. He’s really, really mad.”
Dads, your children are fools who will often offend you (Prov. 22:15), yet you must learn to control your anger or you will destroy your home and your relationship with your children (25:28). Anger wrongly frames discipline as a problem between parent and child, thus teaching them to fear man instead of the Lord (29:25). Instead of exposing your children’s sin, it makes them emotional weathermen: “What kind of mood is daddy in right now? How much can I get away with?” Your children learn to appease you because they long for a stable environment, yet anger will destroy your family from within. So consider the wisdom of Proverbs: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (19:11).
One night, two of my boys were horsing around, spoon-fighting at dinner (for the uninitiated, that’s sword-fighting with spoons), when they both fell off their chairs. It’s ridiculous the number of times in our home that little boys have fallen off their chairs in the middle of dinner. This particular meal took an hour longer than necessary as I repeatedly reprimanded them to finish eating. I was about to yell in frustration, but I had to check myself. My desires had morphed into demands. They had gone from “I want” to “I must have” until those demands ruled my heart. I began to view my desire for respectful children and for peace and quiet as something I deserved—rewards for a life well-lived: “I work so hard to take care of these kids. I put food on their plates. I’m not asking for much. I deserve their respect. I demand their respect.” Yet the moment my desires drifted into demands, they became sinful heart idolatry. Idols are not simply statues of wood and stone, but anything I depend on apart from God for happiness or security. An idol is whatever I love and pursue more than God.
So dads, what is most important to you? Which desire rules your heart? Will you sin in order to get it or sin if it’s withheld? If so, you have an idol. Pay attention and your anger will expose your heart. I encourage you to journal any occasion you get angry this week:
Anger contaminates your deepest roots, yet thankfully the gospel goes deeper. So let the Lord transform your sinful anger as you apply the Proverbs: “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (15:1) and “a hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (v. 18). Also “if your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink” (25:21; see 24:17-18) and “whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (16:32). Seek to emulate the patient lovingkindness which the Lord has shown to you.
Dads, just as you would never smoke celebratory cigars over your baby’s crib, so also snuff out your anger (Ps. 37:8a; Col. 3:8). Focus on character qualities and godly actions to put on in place of anger: self-control (Prov. 16:32; 25:28; 29:11; Gal. 5:23), edifying speech (Prov. 10:11, 13, 19-21, 31-32; 12:18, 25; 15:1; Eph. 4:25-32), and biblical peacemaking (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 12:18; 14:19). Put on gentleness, patience, and humility (Jas. 1:19): “What new thoughts should I be thinking? What is the right goal for right now? How can I be patient and consider the interests of others? How can I serve God and the people around me? Is there something productive I can do about this problem?” Let Scripture you have memorized transform your thoughts. Keep fighting the battle against anger until you can claim the victory.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, Convict me of any anger in my own heart. Show me how to reject this deadly sin and put on the character of Christ. Teach me to speak with gentle and edifying words even when I feel frustrated by my circumstances. Then help me to model Christ’s patient lovingkindness toward my children instead of provoking them to anger. In your Son’s name, Amen.
LifeWork: Write down one way you will apply today’s Proverb.
Join The TLP Family and receive email updates when we publish new articles and episodes.
Subscribe to Our Podcast