Solomon must have seen the lack of anger management cause some significant damage in the relationships around him during his reign as King over Israel. While writing a letter to his son, Solomon shares his proverbial wisdom on the issue repetitively:
- A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly. (14:29)
- A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (15:1)
- A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel. (15:18)
- Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city. (16:32)
- A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. (19:11)
- A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. (29:11)
There is no shortage of other scriptures on the destruction anger causes outside of Solomon’s work either. And yet, the Gospels capture our greatest example of an authentic man, Christ himself, in a fit or rage in the temples.
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?”
And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.
So there is clearly a time for righteous anger and time to let it pass as indicated in the wisdom of the Proverbs. As it turns out, righteous anger is the exception to the rule. Most of Christ life on earth was spent in servant hood, not in “table flipping action” mode.
As husbands, it is very easy for us to abandon accountability at the first sign of unmet expectations, because we rely on the assumption that our family will love us, regardless of the way we behave. The problem with this behavior is that it is sinful and rooted in selfishness.
Think about the last argument you had and lost your temper. Did you feel some sense of “I am right” and that injustice was given to you? That feeling is the root of the problem. We get tied up in proving how right we are, rather than pursuing righteousness and sustaining a level of respect, honor, and care that we ideally express we have for our spouses.
Pursuing righteousness, instead of being right, is taking one for the team. If you have offended your spouse, regardless of how innocent you truly are, then apologize and move on with the relationship. If you are asked to wipe down the counters after you just finished wiping them down, then do so a second time. Move your feelings of validation (i.e. Can’t she see that I just cleaned off the counter?) to your pleasure in God rather than your spouse. Embrace the concept of letting the joy of the Lord being your strength.
I have a confession. I got angry with my wife last night. I was playing on my computer and it was time to play a family game together. We were waiting on my daughter to finish her chore and then we agreed to meet in the living room. My wife came in to tell me that Presley was done and they were ready to start the game. I wanted to wrap up something on my computer, so I said, “I will be there in a few minutes.”
My wife trying to diffuse the situation and knowing the disappointment that often followed when a few minutes turned into something much longer, gently asked, “How long is a few minutes? It is getting close to the kids’ bedtime.”
That was all it took for me to explode. I slammed the lid down on my laptop and stormed into the living room. “Fine, I’ll come right now.” In my mindset, my wife was just trying to manipulate me. Needless to say we had a conversation after the kids went to bed and she shared with me the whole situation from the kids’ perspective where in their dad was more worried about his computer than spending time with them.
I’ve replayed the scenario in my mind and I can imagine how much different the situation had been if I had jumped at the opportunity to join them when my wife first told me they were ready. It doesn’t matter if I am entitled to spend a few more minutes on my computer. If honestly wanted to pursue righteousness, then I would have put their needs and bedtime above my own.