Human anger and biblical discipline do not mix. Man’s anger will not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:20) The key phrase is the righteous life that God desires. God did not give you your children so that you could teach them to follow your desires and wishes. When you make parenting about your desires, then, in your mind, God exists to serve you, to support your agenda and standards. When this role reversal occurs, even if unintentional, you attempt to make God subordinate to your will. This will produce anger and frustration, first in you and then in your children.
Anger is an indication that your desires have become the most important thing.
God has not called you to implement your agenda, but his. When children sin, that sin is primarily against God. God has placed children in your home so that they would be confronted and disciplined in a way that leads to the gospel. In this light, being able to recognize your children’s sin is a great blessing. Yes, you read correctly—a great blessing.
If you view your children’s sin primarily as a failure to obey you, then their behavior becomes an interruption, an irritation, a continuing exercise in frustration. You will be given to anger and miss opportunities to display the beauty of the gospel.
When addressing sin in your children, the theme of gospel grace must not be excluded! If all you are doing in discipline is correcting behavior, then the core component of biblical discipline, the gospel, will be missing. The gospel is not necessary if your aim is only to have a child who will obey quickly and have a clean room. However, the gospel is essential if you are to lead your children towards Christ and to find redemption for their rebellious hearts.
Discipline that is based on the gospel is motivated by love for God and not by irritation at bad behavior. Gospel-based discipline is implemented by a combination of pleasant words (Proverbs 16:20-24) and loving discipline. Harsh, stern words, hurt feelings and frustration will provoke you and your children to anger.
Your children’s disobedience is not a reason for anger. Their sin is a call to you to bring the power of the gospel to your kids. Their sin is a call for grace. Yes, you must discipline and train them. But your discipline must not flow from anger but from a love for God that calls your children to the grace and wonder of following God’s commands.