(Designed for a father to read with his 12-year-old son)
A boy does not know how to control his temper; a man does.
“A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.” ~ Proverbs 29:11
There are many things in life that make us angry, and some of them should. But a man pays careful attention to his anger, and only expresses it when he should.
A real man is angry at the right things for the right reasons. A boy, on the other hand, is angry at the wrong things for the wrong reasons. A real man controls his anger, but anger controls a boy.
A word or an action done in a flash of anger can destroy something that has taken years to build. One angry word can do so much damage to a relationship that it may take years to rebuild. A stick of dynamite with a short fuse can explode before anybody is at a safe distance, and it’ll send shrapnel everywhere.
Solomon puts it this way: “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty” (19:19). There is an unavoidable cost an angry man will have to pay. There isn’t any way around it. It can cost a man a friendship, a job, a reputation and even a career.
All of us blurt out things in anger that we later regret. We wish we could take those words back, but we can’t. The goal we should strive for is, with God’s help, to think before we speak at all times but especially when we are angry. Ask yourself this question: will I regret what I am about to say tomorrow?
“A fool,” Solomon says, “shows his annoyance at once” (Prov. 12:16). The mark of an immature man is that he has a thin skin, is easily angered and everybody around him knows it. Men like this are no fun to be around. Others are afraid of him, tiptoe around him, and avoid him for their own protection.
“A prudent man overlooks an insult” (12:16.) One mark of maturity is that you don’t react negatively to every negative thing that is said about you or to you. You must always have a soft heart but you also must always have a thick skin, so that it takes a whole lot to get you really teed off.
One other problem with anger is that it becomes a gateway for other problems to enter into your life. Solomon puts it this way, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control” (25:28).
Cities in Solomon’s time depended on strong and sturdy walls to keep their enemies at bay. If the walls were broken down, if there were gaps in the wall, the folks who lived in that city had no protection from the enemies who wanted to destroy them. The enemy could sweep in like a flood.
A man who doesn’t exercise self-control has not only opened his soul to the sin of anger, but also to other sins which can come sweeping into his life, sins like pride, defensiveness, bitterness, self-pity, jealousy and envy. Anger can open doorways to the enemy that can make a mess of your soul.
“Better a patient man than a warrior,” says Solomon, “a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” (16:32). We admire the men in our nation’s military who have the courage and skill to defeat our nation’s enemies in battle.
Now Solomon says it requires the same kind of strength and willpower to control your temper as it does to be an elite soldier. Overcoming the temptation to let your anger control you rather than the other way round is a huge battle in a man’s life, but it is a battle you must win.
Remember, a boy does not control his temper, but a man of God does.
Father, I pray that you will produce the fruit of the Spirit of self-control in full measure in my son. May his anger always be under your control so that he will be its master and never its servant. Make him a mighty warrior in your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, amen.