Day 1 3 : I n Your Anger, Do Not Sin!
At our church, we have an outreach called “Young Lives.” The goal is to have
men who have families and are raising children sit with younger, recently new
fathers to encourage and sow into them. Last night, one question came up,
“How do we, as men, deal with our anger?”
The young man asking the question described his situation. He had pulled
into his driveway and clipped his car against the wall. As he heard the crunch
and pictured the damage, in anger, he jumped out of his car and ran into the
house. He confessed that, upon entering his home, he held and cuddled his
newborn daughter for comfort and a feeling of satisfaction while at the same
time yelling at his wife to be quiet. As he took out all of his frustration on her,
he knew it was wrong. He felt bad about it, yet he went full steam ahead with
no idea how to handle it.
As I think back on the early years of my marriage, I remember getting to
a point where I gave and gave and gave, feeling absolutely spent and like I was
getting nothing in return. Our son, Dakota, was around six months old, and
after feeling like I had bent over backwards trying to be “super husband,” but
not addressing certain things along the way, I remember getting into it with my
wife and just straight saying to myself “f this.”
I had taken enough, felt like I had no voice, had blown my fuse, and didn’t
know what to do. This was BC (“Before Christ”), by the way, so that kind of
language was the norm, sadly.
But from then on, any time I was challenged, didn’t feel loved, or felt disrespected,
I would say whatever was on my mind. Things I would never have
imagined saying to my Tracy I said, and soon, things escalated.
We began arguing, fighting, name calling, giving the silent treatment,
taking off for a drive, blasting each other viciously, and so on. We didn’t know
what was happening, and we didn’t know how to slow things down.
Keep in mind that I grew up in Liverpool, a culture where it was the norm
to get into altercations daily. There could be a shouting match or you might have
to act puffed up to avoid a fight. Or there may be something going down where
you have to gauge the situation, which normally meant swearing at whomever
was standing in your way and saying a mixture of things to try to intimidate
them to see if they were for real.
I was raised with the mindset that using your voice and body language
was a defense mechanism to ward off trouble. But now, just like when I was
pushed to the edge on the street, as I was being pushed into a corner in my
marriage, I was taking out my wrath on my beautiful wife. Not that she was
innocent; it does take two. But that is not any sort of an excuse for my actions
As our fights grew and grew, my fists went into walls, the names called
were absolutely degrading, and almost anything that came to my mind was
I began to see the extent of just how angry I could get and how, like so
many, I couldn’t control myself and didn’t know how to rightly vent.
How could a guy from England, bred this way (we could say), possibly begin
to exercise any of the characteristics of love spoken about in 1 Corinthians 13?
In the next few chapters, I want to spend time looking at these specific
characteristics, the ones found in the very verses Tracy and I heard the night we
wed in Vegas. As we do, hopefully you will see the struggles within yourself, the
struggles with anger you may have and how to embrace the change.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not
proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily
angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil
but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes,
always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4–8
Reading over this passage, I can say with absolute confidence that I have
blown all that Paul lists here as my anger grew and grew and got the best of
me. It felt comfortable clenching my fists, grinding my teeth, speaking more
intensely, and feeling I had to get my point across.
As our marriage got worse and we were by now throwing divorce at each
other like it was no big deal, I remember my wife getting into her car as she was
about to leave. As she did, I ran out to the garage, undoubtedly to shout some
rude remark, to which she slammed the door in my face. The door connected
with my leg full force. Whether she intended it or not, I felt disrespected again,
belittled, and here was my wife leaving our home because of our anger.
What could I do? What would you do? What did that young man do after
the car hit the wall? I did what I had learned to do—blasted the garage door
open, ran up to the car, and as she was leaving, I smashed my fist down on the
windshield as hard as possible. It cracked the windshield, and as she got out of
the car in shock, the noise (and her mother coming over) resulted in the police
being called, and I was in trouble. Although we were not physical, I look back
now as that time as life changing.
This was definitely one of the events God used to get my attention, as it
ended with my having to take anger management classes for several weeks.
It was a huge wake-up call for my wife and for me, but it was also something
that would become useful to me for the rest of my life.
In those classes I learned that anger is an emotion—one we are born with
and that is triggered based on the situations we encounter. Just as on the streets
of Liverpool, when fear or offense came, anger would rise up and set the tone
for what I would choose to do next.
With my marriage, all the conflicts I hadn’t addressed had pushed me into
a corner, and I couldn’t take it anymore. Anger was the emotion, the red flag,
saying this is too much, but it wasn’t the anger that was the problem. It was
how I reacted when I was angry. How my wife slammed the door when she was
angry, or even, for better understanding, how the young man mentioned in the
beginning of this chapter, after hitting the wall, was able to react to his daughter
in love yet reacted another way to his wife while being angry the whole time.
This is your issue with anger too—how you react.
It’s with this understanding that we see the Scriptures in the Bible ring true:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give
no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26–27, esv).
So this emotion is a part of our human nature. It’s a trigger that should
cause us to think even more about whatever the situation may be. But anger
isn’t necessarily sin because Jesus got angry. In the gospel of Mark, we read
the story of Jesus healing a man with a deformed hand, but because it was the
Sabbath, the Pharisees got mad. As Jesus asked them a question, one which
they didn’t answer, we are told that Jesus “looked around at them with anger[and] grieved at their hardness of heart” (Mark 3:5, esv). He looked at them
with anger. He was angry, got upset, had a problem; yet the Bible says He
never sinned, ever. What He did next, even though He was angry, was to
simply tell the man to stretch out his hand and He healed him. He was angry
but didn’t sin. But I did. I wasn’t patient, wasn’t kind; I was self-seeking and
Everyone gets angry, women just as much. It’s just that typically men react
more with shouting and more easily get to the point of being physical. We
shout much louder, are generally stronger, and can be a lot more imposing. God
even refers to the woman as the weaker partner or vessel (1 Peter 3:7).
If that verse offends you, think about it. How many times do you see an
altercation in the street or witness someone come to the house to start a fight
and the wife rolls up her sleeves, expected to handle business? You don’t; it’s
generally men who throw fists. Society has also bred aggression into men, oftentimes
as something to be glorified. So please, don’t use this chapter as a way for
you, wife, to guilt-trip your husband. I can tell you, he feels guilt, knows it’s
wrong, and that there is a better way to handle things. Of all the times we have
fought, shouted, took off, and gone overboard, I always knew I would regret
it and that I was doing nothing positive for our marriage. In my anger and
moments of despair, I was falling into sin.
That night at Young Lives, as we were seated before these young fathers, I
let them know the reality of the situations they were in. Fights may start with
shouting, escalating to throwing and smashing things, even to pointing in one
another’s face, then pushing and shoving, grabbing ahold of, and then, who
knows? Being physical, even to the point of jail time? They needed to know
this because statistics show this. They needed to know this because it’s reality.
I know what it’s like to be pushed into a corner, and when our voices aren’t
heard or our needs aren’t being met, this is how we can react in our anger. They
needed to know this just as much as you need to know this. Infidelity destroys
many a marriage but so does anger. Everything that was promised is tossed
aside, and we say “uncle,” leading to the way of wrath.
However, there is hope and there is grace as we trust in God’s Word and
listen to His Holy Spirit for direction. Because we are believers and because love
never fails, we should be able to bear the fruit of what’s inside of us—the fruit
of the Holy Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love … gentleness and self-control.
Just because you are still together doesn’t mean that inside, one of you isn’t
going through hell dealing with it or the results.
We told that young man that night what he should have done. Rather than
going into the house fully knowing he was angry, he should have gone for a
walk, called a friend, got some prayer, and thought about the situation. I am
convinced that, had he done that, he would have been strengthened by God
Almighty to love both his daughter and his wife. He would have heard that
still small voice saying, “I am counting on you to love My daughter, your wife.”
Below are some verses that speak clearly about how we should react when
dealing with our anger. I learned to recognize how I am feeling, even when
things are frustrating and I feel my back is up against the wall. When things
get dark, I need to shine some light, God’s Word, into the situation. I remind
myself of what He says, consider my role as the head of the home, and remember
that love never fails.
Just as much as I learned to deal with my anger, my wife also had to recognize
when she gets angry. Our interactions can play a definite part in pushing
one another’s buttons.
This is not a “Pass Go” card for women to do anything they want to control
their spouse if he gets angry. This is a call for both of you, women included, to
gauge your anger, consider how you react, and be mature.
I have seen just as many women refuse to speak, go off into serious sin, or
be manipulative in situations, knowing they can use his shortcomings against
We need love! We need to be open to discuss and pray about these things,
without accusing and judging.
May these verses speak to you and your spouse, as they have to Tracy and
me. We have discussed them many times, and I encourage you and your spouse
to do the same.
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.
Colossians 3:19, esv
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing
honor to the woman as the weaker vessel …
1 Peter 3:7, esv