Under Control

“Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city” Proverbs 16:23

Keil and Delitzsch translate Proverbs 20:3 saying, “It is an honour for a man to remain far from strife; but every fool shows his teeth.” That’s well said. The text reminds me of an irritable dog that growls and shows its teeth. Some parents are like that. They’re easily irritated. It doesn’t take much before they fly off the handle. They’re quick to growl, quick to show their teeth, quick to snap.

In the Spring of 2002 I was in Couchiching Park, Orillia, with the Orillia Community Church Edge One Junior Youth group. Having completed our Bike and Blade event, we were sitting chatting when I noticed a father walking along with his daughter in hand. The girl was six or seven year’s old. She was obviously tired and couldn’t keep up with her father’s lengthy stride. But the father could care less. He was no doubt in a hurry to get somewhere and was yanking her along in an effort to make her walk faster. Then, without warning, he barked his displeasure, let go of her hand, and gave her a hefty slap on the back of her head. She immediately burst into tears. It made no impression on the father. He grabbed her hand and increased his pace, virtually dragging her along for a few meters before grabbing her around the waist and bundling her into his pick up truck.

I was shocked. It was a graphic display of a parent’s impatience and irritability.

God’s Word has much to say on this subject. In Proverbs 16:32 it says, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.” In Proverbs 19:11 it says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” And in Proverbs 29:11 it says, “A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.”

The texts are good reminders that children are more often in need of an example to follow, than a hand to correct. That’s not to say that children don’t occasionally need “the rod of correction” Proverbs 29:15. But a spanking should be the exception. Parents need to cultivate a pleasant, patient and positive disposition as they discipline their children. In practice that means parents should keep themselves under control. The Lord makes this possible. If you need an extra measure of patience for a difficult child, ask the Lord for it. He won’t let you down. As it says in Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

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