Some time ago I stumbled my way through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and an idea kind of caught my sleeve in a vague sort of way. I have been trying to get this idea on a leash for some time, but it keeps wandering away. But this week, as I studied and prayed on the topic of anger, it crept back into my head and curled up on the porch.
I should get an award or something for that spaghettini of overwrought metaphor. Lordy.
Seriously, I am concerned with the topic of anger because I am mastering my temper by the power of the Holy Spirit. And as a pastor, I want to help men and women share in this victory. If you have no problem with anger, then browse on by. But if you struggle to tame this beast, then stop with me for a moment and think about Jesus’ teaching here.
The thing that stood out to me in the Sermon on the Mount was that Jesus addressed three primary topics: anger, lust and greed. Now, that is not too hard to see, but the next thing that grabbed me was that this seems to me to correspond to three stages of maturity and development. Think about it now:
1. The first ten years of a man’s life is given to mastering anger, if done right. Self-control in childhood is mostly about controlling the temper and learning self-denial.
2. The second ten years of a man’s life is mainly about gaining control of sexual desire. Again, if done right. Which is rare. This is why dating before marrying age is such a disaster.
3. The third ten years, a man’s twenties, is given to mastering money–once again, if done right. Of course, we do not wait until a man is in his twenties before we teach him to manage money. But it is in his twenties that all we have taught him is put to the test, and he must learn stewardship for himself. This is the decade of college and career, marriage and work, on and on.
Anger, lust and greed. Think about how much trouble we get into because we were not trained to master these things while we were children. I wonder what could happen if we started using this outline of personal development in childrearing? What if we started praying for grace and began teaching our children to overcome anger during the first ten years, to control sexual desire in the second ten years, and to manage money wisely in the third ten years (assuming that our adult children will want our wise counsel during their twenties)?
Not sure I have all that figured out, but it seems to me that Jesus’ teaching could be applied this way. This requires more consideration, I think.