(Prior parts to this series can be found here.) I was looking for my glasses in the kitchen when I realized and then said that they were still in the van. John immediately headed for the door to the garage, announcing that he would get them for me. I was grateful for his desire to serve, but told him that I had better retrieve them because I didn’t want them dropped. He assured me that he would be careful, and off he went.
Seconds later John came flying back into the kitchen with the glasses in hand. As he closed the door with the hand holding the glasses, the handle caused him to loosen his tender grip on the glasses, and they headed for the floor. The speed at which he was coming in the door gave the glasses momentum. I watched with no little distress as they went sliding across the tile floor—lens down.
I have been working at laying down anger in my life. Therefore, when I felt anger welling up inside of me, I turned to the wall behind me. I raised my hand and placed my palm against the wall. I didn’t smack the wall, but it was obvious that I would have liked to. With my anger now under control, I turned to face a sweet eleven-year-old who had tears brimming in his eyes. He apologized and said he didn’t mean to do it. He was very sorry.
I told him that was why I didn’t want him to get the glasses as he is always in a hurry and prone to accidents like that. I said it was okay and thanked him for his desire to help. He had something to do after that and went off.
Most would say I did a great job of controlling my anger. I was not harsh, and I didn’t discipline him. Yet, I was angry. Teri observed the situation and could tell I was angry. Several days later I spoke to John about it. I asked him if he thought I was angry. He said, “Yes,” and that was why he started to cry, because he was afraid. Ughhh! How that broke my heart.
Dads, that is why if we want to be good leaders of our homes, we must, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away . . .” (Ephesians 4:31). Our children know when we are angry, and it drives a wedge between them and us. They are afraid of us when we are angry, which is not conducive for having them turn their hearts to us.
The fact is, at that moment, I thought more of my glasses than I did of my son. That is something to repent of before God. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous to you? Yet I wonder how often that happens with other dads as well.
What causes you to respond angrily? Maybe it is a glass of spilled milk, the refrigerator door left open, tools lying in the yard, bikes in the middle of the driveway, lots of screaming and yelling, toys left out and tripped on, doors slammed, a child hurting another child, a child being disrespectful to you or your wife, a child not obeying you, a child mocking you, or any of a limitless list of ways a child could make us angry. We need to step back and ask ourselves, “Does anger achieve God’s results and make us good leaders?” “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:20).
There was a time when I allowed myself to be visibly angry because the children responded so much better when I told them to do something. But it soon became apparent that I was driving a wedge between their hearts and mine. If we desire to raise up godly seed (Malachi 2:15), then anger—visible or invisible—must have no part in our lives.
I expect if we were to put our heads together we could write down a fairly lengthy list of ways our spouses can make us angry. I have noticed that when I’m angry with Teri, it does nothing to improve our relationship. Have you experienced that in your marriage as well? There is something about anger that causes the other person to pull back. They don’t want to open up and become close, because they don’t know that they can relax and not be on the defensive. Anger, even a spirit of anger, will cause the one receiving the anger to put up a shield of emotional protection.
My controlled anger with John that night was as harmful to our relationship as if I had yelled at him. He sensed the internal anger and admitted to me that he was afraid. He had no reason to be afraid as I was calm on the outside, but he sensed my spirit. It was angry. We have everything to win and nothing to lose if we will purpose, by God’s grace, to put away all anger.
Scripture is very clear about putting away anger. Read the following verses.
“Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil” (Psalms 37:8).
“But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment . . .” (Matthew 5:22). Even if there was to be a cause, we need to consider Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31). Notice all anger is to be put away.
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Colossians 3:8). Again, all anger is to be put away.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). Look at the other qualities that wrath (anger) is listed among. Would we excuse any of the others in our home?
“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8). Do we want to pray effectively?
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (James 1:19-20). Our anger will not lead to righteousness in our life or those to whom our anger is directed at.
Out of all the verses in the Bible telling us to put away anger, some will still cling to Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath,” as giving them freedom to be angry. Yet, they ignore that five verses later we are told to put away ALL anger. When we look at the above verses, it makes it extremely difficult to justify any anger.
As I said earlier, I have purposed to put away all anger by God’s grace. If there is such a thing as anger, with a cause that the Lord would approve of, I can’t imagine experiencing it. I can see what Scripture says about anger and how anger destroys intimacy in the home. It is difficult enough to win the hearts of my family members; I do not want to allow something in my life that will destroy what I’ve worked so hard for.
How about you? What place does anger have in your life? Have you seen anger’s harmful effects on relationships in your family? One resource that was very helpful in my life was Dr. S. M. Davis’ audio, titled Freedom from the Spirit of Anger. Dads, this really is a serious issue. Will you ask the Lord to search your heart and discover how He might remove anger from it? Will you trust Him to give you the grace needed?