A Father’s Sin

A Father’s Sin

By
Sean E. Ewing & Ashley A. Michaelson

Recently I was talking with my daughter Ashley as she was visiting with the grandkids when the conversation as it frequently does turned to spiritual things and what God has been teaching us in our lives. I asked her if she would be willing to write down some thoughts about how my sin as her father has impacted her. I’m hoping that the things we have experienced will be both a warning and an encouragement to any father reading this. We just celebrated Father’s Day, the timing of this is intentional as there is a full range of thoughts about our fathers during this time. What follows next are Ashley’s words as we begin to unravel the story.

As Father’s Day approached this June, my thoughts naturally turn toward my own father. I’m a lot like my dad. We’re both conversationally oriented and if we’re honest, perhaps prone to ranting if we’re not careful. I’ve always been thankful for my dad’s inclination toward conversation, especially when so many men are rather tight lipped. It’s never hard to find something to talk about with Dad. The conversation often and easily turns toward spiritual things and I am especially grateful for that. It’s rare to have a conversation that doesn’t eventually wind its way around to things of God. What a beautiful blessing that is to me!

As his daughter, I’ve had a front row seat to see how God has transformed my dad over the years. I’ve seen how a love for our heavenly Father has gripped his heart more fully each year that goes by. I can see that most clearly in the area of anger. Growing up, I dreaded making Dad mad. Not because I feared for my safety but because Dad’s words could be fiery. It is the dark side for most of us who love to talk, we usually know how to wield words as weapons too. It wasn’t so much that his words attacked me as person but that they were loud and intense, even if they were true. As a child, I remember Dad losing his temper over house projects that failed to go according to plan, and even though his anger wasn’t directed at me, it made me nervous. Worse yet is when I’d actually done something to cause Dad to get angry. Dad getting mad was never a pleasant experience, largely because I hated to disappoint him but also because being on the receiving end of anger is an intimidating experience, even when it isn’t abusive or violent.

Yet over the years, I have clearly seen how God has softened Dad’s tongue and anger. As Dad has continued to seek the Lord, he has clearly become more patient and graceful, to the point where it’s hard to believe the Dad of my childhood memory isn’t exaggerated. But I know those memories are accurate because I see that very same sin in my own life. I am easily provoked to anger by my children and sadly, my sinful response is often a torrent of angry words spoken to assert my authority and put my children in their place, not to teach and instruct. It has been an area where God has continually convicted me.

I’ve worked to memorize verses to help me control my temper, primarily because meditating on the truths of Scripture reminds me that I must seek God’s help to conquer sin. says “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” This verse has been such a challenge to me. My anger doesn’t produce righteousness in my life and it certainly won’t produce righteousness in my children. So often my anger isn’t because my children have broken God’s law but because they’re inconveniencing me with their need for discipline and instruction. In those moments when I am tempted to unleash anger instead of loving instruction, is also an encouragement to me, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” I’ve prayed about so often about my anger, that I’m thankful God doesn’t get tired of hearing my desperate prayers for patience and self-control. There are times when I want to despair that I will ever tame my tongue and extinguish the anger that always seems to be simmering beneath the surface. But I know it is possible because first of all, I know God gives wisdom to all who ask (). Second, because the Bible says that trials, such as disobedient children, produce perseverance and perseverance leads to maturity in faith (). It seems reasonable to infer that with maturity comes more self-control. Third, when God gives us a command like “be slow to speak and slow to get angry” He gives us the ability to obey the command as we trust in Him. Lastly, I know the sin of anger can be tamed because I look at the work God has done in my Dad’s life. I know that if I continue to follow the Lord, pour over his Word, meditate on his Word and diligently seek him in prayer, my heart will not go unchanged. There is always hope in Him! I may be a work in progress but as says, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

has a repeating line. 26 times it says, “His steadfast love endures forever.” This is something we as followers of Christ can rely on! As you can see in what Ashley said, despite my desire to always share fatherly love with my kids, it was not what my kids always received. Instead they were on the receiving end of the sin of my anger. Our love as earthly fathers may fail, but God’s love will never fail. If you are a father, I hope that you will begin to see ways your sin may be impacting your children, especially the sin of anger. But praise God for change! In Christ, change is possible and real! God has changed my heart in many areas, anger being at the top of the list. If you are thinking “I can handle my anger”, you are wrong, you can’t. Nobody can. Only through God can we conquer our sin. I’m not sure what you are struggling through in your lives, but our great God sure does! Surrender to God today. He is a great and loving Father willing and able to forgive us of our sins ().

19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (ESV)

29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. (ESV)

for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV)

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who by understanding made the heavens,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the sun to rule over the day,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
11 and brought Israel out from among them,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,
for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
18 and killed mighty kings,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
20 and Og, king of Bashan,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
21 and gave their land as a heritage,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
22 a heritage to Israel his servant,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
24 and rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
25 he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever. (ESV)

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (ESV)