Be slow to anger. Does that include when you arrive home and your dog has chewed through your computer bag, torn apart your headphones, shredded your notes, and eaten the binding of your new book? Shall we say that I was a bit tempted to be angry? But I thought I would put into practice what I've been thinking about for a week from the "tunnel of love" in 1 Corinthians 13. And I chose not to be angry…
… until today when the dog looked at me funny… and I snapped at her. Didn't take much… just had to catch me off guard. Not tough for the dog to make me mad in my heart and mind and… if she hadn't scooted out of there… in my strength. : )
The phrase in verse 5 says that "love is not easily angered." Sometimes it could be read as "slow to anger." I recalled some descriptions of God in the Bible as being a God who is slow to anger. This prompted a quick search through Scripture at BibleGateway.com… and I became, once again, a humbled man. I am sitting here with a smile on my face realizing that God always one-ups me in the character department. Here's the result from just a very quick search:
- Exodus 34:6
And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…
Exodus 34:5-7 (in Context)
Exodus 34 (Whole Chapter)
- Numbers 14:18
'The LORD is slow to anger,
abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion…
Numbers 14:17-19 (in Context)
Numbers 14 (Whole Chapter)
- Nehemiah 9:17
They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles you
performed among them. They became stiff-necked and in their rebellion
appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery. But you are a
forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. Therefore you did not desert them…
Nehemiah 9:16-18 (in Context)
Nehemiah 9 (Whole Chapter)
- Psalm 86:15
But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Psalm 86:14-16 (in Context)
Psalm 86 (Whole Chapter)
- Psalm 103:8
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Psalm 103:7-9 (in Context)
Psalm 103 (Whole Chapter)
- Psalm 145:8
The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
Psalm 145:7-9 (in Context)
Psalm 145 (Whole Chapter)
- Joel 2:13
Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
Joel 2:12-14 (in Context)
Joel 2 (Whole Chapter)
- Jonah 4:2
He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was
still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew
that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.
Jonah 4:1-3 (in Context)
Jonah 4 (Whole Chapter)
- Nahum 1:3
The LORD is slow to anger
and great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. His
way is in the whirlwind and the storm, and clouds are the dust of his
Nahum 1:2-4 (in Context)
Nahum 1 (Whole Chapter)
Some brief observations here:
- Not only is God slow to anger… but coincidently he is gracious and he is compassionate and he is abounding in love. Other qualities are added to this too… like faithful and forgiving and loyal and merciful.
- God does not fail to enact justice, however. Many of these passages conclude with the promise that God "will not leave the guilty unpunished." This is a reassurance for those who have been wronged and hurt… and it is fearful for those who have done the wrong and have spread the hurt. Just because he is slow to anger doesn't mean God is a pushover. It means he is a God who waits and gives people time to respond in the right way. Eventually though, time runs out…
- God is pretty amazing.