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Dad has finally gotten a spare hour to change the oil on the family van. He’s buried up to his waist under the vehicle. His right hand, with new scrapes on the knuckles, comes pawing out, in search of the ratchet it just set down. With mounting frustperation, Dad rolls out from under the vehicle’s bowels. He sees Johnny holding the tool he’s looking for.
“What are you doing with that?”
“I found it just laying there.”
“Well, I was looking for that. Can’t you tell I am trying to do something? I only have a couple hours to do anything around here and the last thing I need is someone to make it more difficult. Now if you can’t help me, then go to your room and stay out of the way!”
Johnny walks out, leaving the tool sitting on the toolbox.
Dad watches him go, saying, “What’s with kids these days? We knew how to work when I was a kid.”
Provoking anger. God’s Word commands us, “Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged” (Colossians 3:21). This is probably one of the easiest scriptures to disobey. Many times I’ve upset my kids without realizing what I was doing. I’ve watched an upbeat, energetic kid turn into a gloomy recluse—on the catalyst of my harsh tones.
King Rehoboam provoked half his kingdom into rebellion by his ruthless words (I Kings 12). Many times we dads create our own problems. We let our stress throw a monkey wrench into the gear works of family relationships.
Accidental provocation. One dad “forgets” his fishing plans with his son and goes golfing with a friend. Another sits at the desk crunching numbers and balancing the budget, not having time to look at Johnny’s coloring page.
Neglect promotes feelings of insignificance, guilt, unworthiness, and outright anger in children. As much as I want my kids to submit to me, I have to learn to submit to their needs and desires as well. As I make my plans to go out into this brave new world and conquer it for Jesus Christ, I must take time for them to sit on my knee or climb on my shoulders (to a certain age of course).
Children are flowers. Treat them rough, they fall apart. Neglect them they wilt. But feed them with attention, godly instruction, and character training, and they bloom into a beautiful bouquet, bringing fragrance to our world.
Busting the Pig
Rusty and Misty had had a fun time together at the roller rink, and told their parents all about it when they came to pick them up. As they pulled out of the parking lot, Dad said, “Oh, by the way, Rusty. Shoshanna’s parents gave us back your camera.” He held it up, in its black zippered case.
“Oh yeah! I’ve been wanting to have it back ever since Misty left it behind.”
“Well, it was nice of them to remember,” Dad said, handing the camera to Rusty.
“And,” Mom added, “thank you for not pestering them about it.”
“I knew they would give it back,” Rusty said, as he took it and set it beside him. “Cool, now I can take pictures of the construction work they are doing down the street. Some of those big trucks are huge!”
“Remember the time you took pictures at Shoshanna’s birthday party? That was a lot of fun. I still have some of those hanging on my closet door.”
“Did you get any pictures when you were at the zoo?” Rusty asked his sister.
“A couple. But we didn’t get to see much before I fell.”
“When we get home, I’ll unload them into the computer.”
“When we get home,” Dad said, “it will be bed time. Whatever you do, make it quick.”
“Yes, sir,” Rusty said.
When they arrived at the house, Mom followed behind Rusty saying, “Get those socks off and in the laundry. If you’ve been skating then your feet have been sweating and I don’t want to find stinky socks on your bedroom floor.”
Rusty smiled and headed into the laundry room, holding his camera at his side. He peeled of his socks and put them in the white bin. On the shelf he saw the battery charger. “Oh, I probably should charge the batteries from my camera,” he said to himself. “I’ll just get the pictures off it tomorrow.”
As Rusty was unzipping the black camera case, Misty came in to drop off some dirty laundry, too. “What are you up to,” she asked.
“I’m just getting my batteries charging.” He pulled the camera out of its case. The batteries fell onto the floor. “What happened?” he asked. Rusty looked inside the case and saw a piece of plastic. It was the battery cover for the camera. He looked closer at it and suddenly said, “Misty! You broke it!” He glared at her, “You dropped my camera and BROKE IT!”
“This is my camera. I let you use it, and you broke it. Now, what am I going to do?”
“I didn’t mean to.”
“I’m going to break something of yours!”
“We can fix it. Black tape will hold the batteries in.”
“You broke it and I’m gonna—” Rusty looked up on the shelf and saw Misty’s glass piggy bank. He reached up and grabbed it. “I ought to—”
Misty lunged to save her piggy bank, flailing her hands over his head. “Stop it,” she yelled.
The heavy pig slipped from Rusty’s hands and fell down, down, down, SMASH! on the floor. Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters rolled everywhere. Rusty bent over saying, “Ow, ow, ow.”
“What is going on in here?” Dad demanded as he walked into the doorway.
Misty was crying. “Rusty broke my piggy bank.”
He looked up at his Dad. “I got cut by the glass.”
“Well, we’ll take care of the cut. Then I want to see you in my office, young man.”
Was Rusty wrong to be upset about his camera?
No. We should care about the things God has given us.
Was he wrong to be angry with his sister?
Yes. We should care about people more than things.
What do we learn about being angry in Ecclesiastes 7:9?
What does Proverbs 16:32 teach us? What would things have been like if Rusty had already learned this verse?
What happened because of Rusty’s quick temper?
Busting the Donkey
Introduce this story with a little background of how Balaam was trying to earn big money from God’s enemies instead of obeying what God had called him to do.
So Balaam rose in the morning, saddled his donkey, and went with the princes of Moab. Then God’s anger was aroused because he went, and the Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. And he was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him.
Now the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand, and the donkey turned aside out of the way and went into the field. So Balaam struck the donkey to turn her back onto the road.
Then the Angel of the LORD stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on this side and a wall on that side. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she pushed herself against the wall and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall; so he struck her again.
Then the Angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a narrow place where there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. And when the donkey saw the Angel of the LORD, she lay down under Balaam; so Balaam’s anger was aroused, and he struck the donkey with his staff.
Then the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?”
And Balaam said to the donkey, “Because you have abused me. I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you!”
So the donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden, ever since I became yours, to this day? Was I ever disposed to do this to you?”
And he said, “No.”
Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell flat on his face.
And the Angel of the LORD said to him, “Why have you struck your donkey these three times? Behold, I have come out to stand against you, because your way is perverse before Me. “The donkey saw Me and turned aside from Me these three times. If she had not turned aside from Me, surely I would also have killed you by now, and let her live.”
And Balaam said to the Angel of the LORD, “I have sinned, for I did not know You stood in the way against me. Now therefore, if it displeases You, I will turn back.”
Then the Angel of the LORD said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but only the word that I speak to you, that you shall speak.” So Balaam went with the princes of Balak.
Numbers 22:21-35. New King James Version, © 1983 Thomas Nelson. Used with permission.
What did the angel want to do to Balaam for being so angry and cruel?
What do we get impatient about?
Have you had an event in life when God was trying to get your attention? Did you get mad or look up?
Recovery time: okay, Dad, now that you feel all red faced and embarrassed about your struggles with a quick temper, remember that anger is usually motivated by noble desires, but involves poorly executed actions. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. Admit your weakness to your children. They’ll help you be accountable.
Role Play: You are blowing up a balloon and someone knocks it out of your hands and it flies away. At a birthday party this might be funny. But if your sister (or brother) did it, you might get mad.
Is it right for us to get angry quickly like this? Why would we laugh if a friend did it and get mad over the same thing if a brother or sister did it?
Older child: Someone leaves your toothbrush on the floor, makes you late for something, or forgets to do what you asked. How would you respond if it were your best friend? How would you respond if it were your parent? How would you respond if it were a sibling? Why the difference (if there is one)?