Like any parents, my wife and I are very mindful of the habits we encourage or discourage in our daughter. For instance as a Christian father, I am concerned she learns to worship in a proper fashion (among other things of course). We are also very aware that the way we raise our daughter has the potential to effect generations to come, for as Scripture tells us the sins of the fathers are passed on to those that follow. Bad habits in children translate into habitual sin (and worse) in adults.
Take for instance anger.
In a child, anger is usually an understandable response and is generally related to, or is an expression of, indignation of some sort. For instance, you wake up one morning to what sounds like a demolition crew in your living room and find that the cause of the noise is little Johnny knocking holes in the wall with a hammer. You respond by taking the hammer away from Johnny which (predictably enough) causes Johnny to cry, howl, dramatize and so forth; which gets him nowhere and nothing but a spanking. A commendable situation all the way around for soon you won’t have to worry about Johnny and hammers; unless of course you give in.
But, you may ask yourself, shouldn’t I give in sometime? Is being lenient always bad?
Well, that depends, of course, on what we are allowing. In some instances being lenient, (which is a form of grace) is fine, but I would say that in the case of (sinful) anger we have no leeway for if we give into a child’s anger we can be sure that even though we missed an opportunity to educate, education still happened, but of the worse possible sort. For anger quickly, very quickly, becomes a means of manipulation and manipulative children grow into manipulative adults who learn to use anger, or the possibility of it, in a very effective way. Therefore, men learn that they can avoid dealing with problems or hearing bad news or any number of things by becoming angry. We have all heard it at one time or another “let’s not bring this up for we don’t want to make you know who angry”.
Yet it can get worse for this sort of ungodly anger can quickly become a form of covetousness for what is coveting but desiring that which God (through one means or another) has said we may not have. Anger is a way of getting something that God has said “no” to. Therefore that man who gets around his responsibilities (family, ecclesisiatical or other) by being such a touchy jerk that no one wants to bring anything to his attention is, by his anger, seeking something God has said he must not have; in this instance peace or rest or inactivity.
But it gets worse for covetousness is also, according to Scripture, a form of idolatry and idolaters are notorious manipulators. Its an evil brew and one full of unintended consequences, for our lives and for our families and for our future. The angry man may just want to be left in peace, but peace is something he will never find. For anger produces turmoil and never produces the righteousness that comes from God. For an angry man will never grow up.