As parents we probably stop ten skirmishes a day; many coming down to blows from the youngest. This is normal for brothers. But sadly, as men we don’t grow out of wanting to fight. We just learn how to bury the impulses – at least most of the time.
I was working recently with a man who called himself a Christian. He got angry over something insignificant and started to throw things. He cussed up a blue streak, told the world how he thought he was wronged and stormed off – ruining any witness he may have had for Christ. His actions were no example of being a “real man” to the other guys in the area.
(I’ll be repeating this often) Because Jesus is God, he is the perfect example for us on all aspects of life and especially on what it means to be a “true man.”
One of the best illustrations of self-control from the Bible, as well as the most ironic, comes from Matthew 21. In this authoritative chapter we see Jesus fulfilling lots of prophecy: entering Jerusalem, cursing the fig tree, sharing parables of the evil farmers, two sons and then, most importantly, clearing the Temple.
I would have loved to have been in the temple that day! To see Jesus angry and throwing around the tables and partitions set up in His Father’s house would have been so cool.
Watching His muscles bulging, hearing Him yelling and quoting the Old Testament would have been better than watching mixed martial arts today! To see chickens scrambling, people running, coins flying, birds scurrying off, sheep getting loose… Oh! It would have been so good.
So what does this have to do with self-control?
Well, remembering that Jesus is the perfect example of being a man, we need to understand that He was totally under control when He made the royal mess that day.
God had instituted the temple sacrifice so that the Jewish people might obtain forgiveness for their sins. This sacrifice was not quick and would cost the person time in preparation, and occasionally, financial hardship.
Yet, compared to carrying the weight of their sin, they found the sacrifice of time and money well worth the cost.
Some money-grubbers decided to profit from this sacred ritual, thus removing the preparation involved. They made it a McDonald’s type of affair where one would just pay a few bucks to buy a bird at the door (or whatever else one needed) to give to the priest. This made the sacrifice easy and worth nothing.
It also eliminated any real time for reflection on one’s own sin before entering the temple.
Jesus could have destroyed the temple that day. But what He did proved His power even greater. He simply corrected the problem, with awesome righteous anger.
Men get angry at sporting events, when a car breaks down, at the kids when they mess something up, when a co-worker makes a mistake. But do we get angry when God’s work is being harmed?
Having been in the ministry for over 20 years, I have never seen a man righteously angry that more men were not sharing the gospel. I have never seen a man truly angry over a world lost in sin.
I have never seen a man so distressed over his own sin that he becomes righteously angry over the problem, never!
Being self-controlled does not mean a man will not get angry or even that he will always remain perfectly calm. But when he does get angry, his actions bring about positive change. His anger has a purpose and is for the glory of God.
So, next time you get mad at a football game, or that you have to mow the lawn, think about the bigger picture and focus that energy on how you could be a better leader in your home or church.
Remember what a “real man” and righteous anger looks like – and how God shows self-control with mankind – you and me – each day.