How To Create Anger and Make Little Pharisees


A dad once told me, “I get angry with my kids so they know I’m serious. It’s good for them to be afraid of me, at least a little bit.”

So often we resort to anger as a way to get people to do what we want. Parents yell at their kids to try to get them to obey. Bosses intimidate employees to motivate them. Husbands speak harshly to their wives to try to change them.

We think that the best way to help people know we’re serious is to turn up the volume. To yell and scream or to give the cold shoulder. Or we think that the only way to get a person to truly change is by letting our anger out of the cage.

We think to ourselves, I can’t act like this doesn’t mean anything. They need to know just how serious and important this is. If I don’t get angry, this will just keep happening again and again. 

But God’s Word says:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God (James 1:19-20).

Catch that? Anger won’t produce righteousness – in our children or anyone else. You absolutely cannot make someone change by being angry at them. It simply doesn’t work.

Anger will often produce something else, though – the fear of man. Oh, our children may obey us out of fear. But our anger will produce little Pharisees, who obey on the outside but not from the heart. This is the exact opposite of what we want. We want children who obey from the heart, not from fear.

In fact, anger can actually produce obedience on the outside and a stone cold heart. It can harden people’s hearts toward us and God, driving them even further from what God desires for them.

God doesn’t use anger to produce his righteousness in us. His wrath doesn’t move those in hell to love him. God imputes to us Christ’s righteousness, then moves us to obey out of gratitude. We love because he first loved us, not because he first intimidated us.

Romans 2:3-5 reminds us that God’s kindness leads toward repentance.


The lie of anger is that it can lead to change. Rather, it is God’s grace that leads to change.

Mark Altrogge

I’m a pastor at Saving Grace Church in Indiana, PA. I’m married to Kristi, have 5 kids, and a growing number of grandkids. I enjoy songwriting, oil painting and coffee, not necessarily in that order.