(Author’s Note: This is another blog post from several years back that I want to share.)
As a father of three energetic boys who run around the house and the neighborhood on a daily basis, it’s not very often that I have an opportunity to hold any of them in my lap. They’re getting older (and bigger) and as they do they start drawing farther away from me. Not in a bad way, just in the way of life. As kids age they gain more independence. It makes those times when they do stop and sit in my lap or next to me on the couch so sweet and poignant. There is a special kind of warmth and affection that can only be shared between a father and son. Those are times I wish would never end. I recall that not so long ago I could hold one for an hour, him wrapped up in a blanket with a stuffed animal then wrapped up in my arms with his head laying back on my shoulder. Maybe we’re watching TV together or he’s just experiencing the interesting ritual I go through when I check my email. To me, I don’t care what it is we are doing together. All I think about is the sweetness of our shared time. Memories that I treasure and will remember long after they have grown up and left the home for college, work, new wives, and new families to raise. It’s fun holding them in my lap.
But, there is something else that I hold in my lap from time to time. Something that is hideous and dangerous. Still, I hold it there willingly. It’s much more willing to sit there and be stroked and coddled and indulged. It’s anger.
Do not let yourself be quickly provoked,
for anger resides in the lap of fools.
When I sit and stew over the latest wrong done to me, I sit there holding anger in my lap and I feed it, Maybe I’m thinking about how I’ll respond to someone at the office who comes and hangs out at my desk for no apparent reason and distracts me from my work for too long. Or maybe how I’ll respond to the guy in the cube across the aisle from mine when he suddenly turns around to make some inane comment which draws off the last umpteen inane comments he’s made for the last several months. I don’t say anything except maybe give a feigned chuckle thinking he will notice and then leave me alone. All the while, I sit with anger in my lap.
Anger started out as a small, furry, winsome creature, oddly cute in its way. One of those creatures you just have to pick up. When you do, it secretly takes hold of you. As you stroke it, it digs it lengthening claws into you. Eventually it grows too large for you to control, it now controls you.
Sad story isn’t it? Sadly, it’s also one that has recurred thousands or even millions of times around the globe.
But what is the cure? How does someone tame and control anger? By gaining wisdom and understanding.
In my last post, I quoted Proverbs 14:19. The first line says, “The one who is slow to anger has great understanding.” It’s obvious that understanding is the key.
But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8 (NET)
Ask of God. If you ask Him in unwavering faith, He will give it to you and give it generously. He will also give it “without reprimand.” That means He won’t scold or chide you for your faults. He won’t call you out as a fool.
There’s another thing to remember.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge...
Proverbs 1:7a (NASB)
You also need to fear God. Have reverence for Him. Hold Him in awe. When you respect and honor the One who instructs you it is easier to learn and gain the wisdom you need. The wisdom you need to tame anger.
Grace and peace,