The Case Against Anger – Part 2

(See Part 1 if you haven’t read it.) “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman” (Proverbs 21:19). Ouch! This verse hits home with me when we read it in our family Bible time. I always pick it as the one that God is telling me to beware of. Walking on the road toward a heart that is not easily angered is a good road to be on. I am so grateful the Lord has moved me away from being a mom who yells at her children. As you know, though, my earnest prayer is that I would be so filled with the fruit of the Spirit that even angry thoughts or feelings would seldom, if ever, arise within me.

As I evaluate my angry responses to situations, I believe it does me the most good to see what Scripture has to say about anger. It is when my evaluation of anger lines up with what God says that I will stop justifying and excusing it.

Please keep in mind that I write the Mom’s Corner articles based on Titus 2:3-5, “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” At forty-six, I am older than many who read the Corners. My goal through the Corners is to pass on what God has been teaching me in the subjects listed in Titus 2:4-5.

I would like to recommend a powerful resource on anger by a solid Bible teacher. Dr. S. M. Davis’ teaching audio, called Freedom from the Spirit of Anger, has had a profound, positive impact on Steve and me in the area of overcoming anger. It gives a detailed look at anger in the Bible, delves into whether anger is ever justified, and concludes with practical steps to conquering anger. I highly recommend that each mom reading this article listen to Freedom from the Spirit of Anger.

When I allow anger in my life, I am hurting my family members who must either face or watch my angry responses—even if it is simply a tone in my voice. How do you feel when your husband speaks to you in anger? If he isn’t yelling at you, but you discern anger within him, is your heart open to what he is saying? Do you feel loved and accepted?

Personally, I would much rather my husband speak to me in a normal tone of voice, rather than an angry one, if he has something negative to present. As soon as I sense anger in him, I become defensive. My spirit closes down, and I justify myself to him for whatever the anger is pointed toward. To be honest, even if I thought my husband had angry feelings about me that he wasn’t expressing, it would make me sad as I desire his unconditional love. It has to be the same way with my children. My anger toward them is not what they want to face. It puts them on the defensive, closing their hearts and ears to what I am saying. It also must convey to them a lack of love on my part.

Ephesians 4:31: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” To me this says that ALL anger is to be put away from me. This is my heart’s desire!

“A wrathful man stirreth up strife: but he that is slow to anger appeaseth strife” (Proverbs 15:18). This verse indicates that our anger can actually cause additional problems. Often when I become angry it is because I want to see a change that isn’t happening. Rather than my anger facilitating the change—whether it is harmony among siblings or pancakes that aren’t burned—it stirs up more strife!

“He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly . . .” (Proverbs 14:17). It was 8:30 p.m., time for the children to do their picking up before bedtime. My two youngest children, and biggest mess makers, Jesse (7) and Mary (5), had been reminded several times through the day to put away their playthings before moving to another activity. When I walked into Jesse’s bedroom, where they had played that morning, the floor was literally covered with toys. They had obviously disobeyed my earlier reminders, and there was certainly not sufficient time left before bed to put away that quantity of toys.

I felt the anger within. You probably wouldn’t have recognized it in me, but I did, and I expect that Jesse and Mary did, too. I then acted foolishly just as Proverbs says. I lectured them with that “tone” in my voice. Then I filled their arms with toys and marched them to the places those items belonged.

Understand, the children did need to put away their toys. They needed consequences for their disobedience. What they didn’t need, and what was “dealing foolishly” on my part, was my angry reaction.

As the Holy Spirit convicted me of my anger, I went to each of them after they were tucked into bed. I asked them to forgive Mommy for not being sweet and gentle at pickup time. Children are so quick to forgive! Even though they weren’t together when I asked their forgiveness, they both said almost the same words, “Oh yes, Mommy. I forgive you. Will you please forgive me for not putting my toys away earlier today when you told me to?” There had been no remorse over their disobedience while they were in my angry presence. However, as soon as I humbled myself to each of them, their spirits were also humbled and convicted.

Next month we will continue this series on anger by looking at practical steps we can take to gain victory over anger. In the meantime, listen to Dr. Davis’ audio, and you may have anger under control before the next Corner is out! May we be women who desire not to have angry reactions in our lives—ever!

Aspects of Being a Good Leader – Part 6

(To read the other parts in the series, please see this link.) Last month we looked at Lot’s life to see what insight we could glean from it. We saw that Lot was a selfish man who made decisions based on what was good for him. Yet, Lot was referred to as a just man and was still better than the pagans around him. But, was he God’s man?

Based on observation, I find many professing Christians who seem to have a saving faith, yet their walk bears great similarities to Lot’s. We must each ask, “Is it I, Lord?”

The man we are going to look at this month was quite different from Lot, yet he had similar circumstances. Let’s look briefly at Abraham’s life and compare our life to his.

In Genesis 12:1-4 we read, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him. . . .”

What a promise of incredible blessing that was! I find it tempting to think, “How could anyone not act on that?” But let’s look at this more closely, and see if we think we would have obeyed like Abram did.

First, God is telling Abram to leave the security of his extended family. In those days, living by your family was much safer than living by yourself in a foreign country. The men in the family would join together in opposing those who might attack them. By leaving, Abram no longer had that security. Abram trusted God with his life.

God didn’t even tell Abram where He was sending him. Abram was told not only to leave the security of his family but also to go someplace unknown. Most of us would ask ourselves, “What if I don’t like it there? Is this really God’s direction?” There is just something unsettling about not knowing. Oftentimes, we can handle good or bad news; it is the not knowing that “kills” us.

Years ago, at a training clinic for marriage enrichment leaders that Teri and I attended, each spouse blindfolded the other and led him or her around the building. I remember how uncertain I felt (okay, I’ll admit it, even a little fearful at times) as Teri enjoyed leading me on a very strange journey, up and down stairs, in circles, and through different rooms. It was natural for me to want to know where each step was being placed and where I was going to end up. One aspect the exercise demonstrated was how important it was to be able to trust the person leading you. It was much easier to blindly be led about because I trusted Teri and knew she would not take me anywhere that wasn’t good for me, yet because I couldn’t see, I still had an emotional response. Abram not only trusted God, but his expectation was in Him. Abram was not told where, but he went.

What an incredible beginning to Abram’s walk with God. It reminds me of the old saying where one says, “Jump!” and the recipient of the command says, “How high?” However, with Abram, he didn’t even ask how high. He simply obeyed. It is the desire of my life that if God says to do something, I will do it.

Abram traveled to the land of Canaan. Then in Genesis 12:7, God spoke to Abram again and said, “. . . Unto thy seed will I give this land. . . .” God did not give the land to Abram right then, but He said He was giving it to Abram’s seed. I wonder how many of us would be happy if all the blessings God was going to give us were to go only to our children’s children. We would not be able to enjoy them ourselves but would have to be content knowing they were coming. Are we willing to make decisions that will reap a harvest of righteousness only for our children and our children’s children?

As we read about Abram’s life, we are surprised twice by decisions of his that are not representative of a good leader. In fact, we would expect Lot, not Abram, to have made these decisions. God records these events for our benefit. What can we learn from them to help us be good leaders of our families?

In Genesis 12:13 and 20:2 Abram (now Abraham), like a good leader, was “looking down the road” ahead of their travels and thinking about situations they might encounter. Sarah was very beautiful, and Abraham was concerned in his heart that Sarah would be taken to be part of a king’s harem. It must have been fairly common that if the woman was married, the husband was killed and the wife taken. Therefore, Abraham reckoned that he was going to be in serious danger, and he asked Sarah to deceive them by not admitting that she was his wife, but to say that Abraham was her brother (he was her half brother). Deception is not God’s plan.

A good leader should be alert to danger, but he must seek the Lord for the right solution. Abraham’s plan of deception was not of the Lord. God “stepped in” and protected Abraham and Sarah, and there appeared to be no consequences for the deception.

We may be tempted to think the lesson Abraham learned through these situations was to trust God for protection. I believe, though, that an even greater lesson would have been to ask God first before proceeding. I could find no mention in Scripture of where Abraham sought God’s direction prior to traveling to those two areas that got him into trouble. Look how those failures could have been avoided if Abraham had prayed before he went down those roads.

“And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels” (Genesis 12:16). We read how Pharaoh gave Abraham gifts in exchange for Sarah. Then we read in Genesis 16:1, “Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.” Then we read how Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham as his wife so Sarah can claim Hagar’s children as her own. Here is another creative human plan laden with consequences. Yes, it was Sarah’s plan, but Abraham agreed to it and, therefore, owned the consequences.

Now we see that had Abraham not decided to go to Egypt, Hagar would not have been given to them, and she would not be part of Sarah’s scheme for children. Had Ishmael not been born, is it possible that the Arab-Israeli conflict through the centuries could have been avoided? Only the Lord knows, but it is an interesting question. How bitter the fruit we may serve our family when we aren’t following God’s direction.

Do you ever neglect to ask God for direction and then cry out to Him to fix the situation when the road leads to trouble? How much better for us and our families if we cry out to the Lord for direction prior to going down a certain road.

Abraham was God’s man and did so many things right. He had incredible faith in God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. He was obedient to God to the point of being willing to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. He was satisfied with his descendants receiving the blessings of a homeland, instead of having the blessing himself.

May we be like Abraham in his good points and learn from his failures. May we seek God every morning and at every decision. May we be totally dependent on the Father to direct our lives.