By Branden DesCarpentrie

One of the greatest blessings of my life was bringing our youngest son into our family through adoption.  I knew giving Kilyan a family would change his life, but what I didn’t expect were the lessons God would teach me through him.  From a deeper understanding of a believer’s spiritual adoption in Christ, to the rich meanings of the words redemption and grace, and how Kilyan’s almost constant joy and wide smile brings happiness to those around him.  That’s good stuff.  But there is one lesson, a hard one, God taught me through him that stands out above the others…

My hard lesson occurred about a year ago when Kilyan had done something he shouldn’t have.  Sadly, I can’t even recall what it was.  What I do remember is how I raised my voice and became his accuser.   Intent on changing his behavior, I felt every right (in my self-righteous mind) to speak to him that way.  As I began yelling, what I saw next still burns in my heart.  Kilyan’s eyes drooped down away from me and to the floor, his shoulders slumped, and he hung his head-completely deflated.  That’s when the Spirit spoke to me:

“I didn’t ask you to bring him half way around the world to belittle and shame him.”

That’s the moment I finally got it!  My anger was NOT biblical, it was destructive.  God didn’t give me a son for him to learn wrath instead of grace, or for me to be a dictator instead of a shepherd.  Yet that is exactly what my legacy would have been if I had been unmotivated to change.  It was my turn to hang my head and ask forgiveness…not just from God who provided me forgiveness through Christ, but also from my little boy who needed a more loving father.  God opened His arms on a cross so I could join His family and receive His grace-not condemnation-and conform me to the image of Christ.  Kilyan deserves the same kind of earthly father.

Have you ever had such a “Kilyan moment” when you were struggling with anger and knew things had to change?  The Bible says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).  So here are four practical challenges to help you be the kind of person God desires:

  • 1. Confess unbiblical anger as sinful and ask forgiveness from those you’ve offended. (I John 1:9)
  • 2. Focus on shepherding and addressing the real heart issues, not simply dictating a change in outward behavior. (Colossians 4:6; James 1:19)
  • 3. Ask someone to keep you accountable and talk with them regularly. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
  • 4. Finally, hate your sin (Psalm 97:10). If you excuse it as “just your personality,” saying that you get it honestly or that you have a right to be angry, you will never change. Trust me, I have said all of these, and they are lies that prevent you from becoming more like Christ.