“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” (Ps 103:8)
What if God dealt with us the way we so often deal with others? Who could make it through one single day if the Lord was as quick to take offense with us as we are with others? Though the Lord is great in His holiness, He is also great in love. Rather than seeking retaliation for every incident, God chooses to restrain His anger and seek reconciliation.
As children of God we are called to live to a higher standard. We are not to be like the world that so often acts and reacts purely out of emotion. We must not be controlled by our circumstances; rather, we must rise above them. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)
Something within our old nature cries out for us to resist and fight against those who oppose us. Though we might try to defend such actions as normal, Jesus describes them as indicators of spiritual immaturity. Tax collectors and pagans love those who love them, but only the child of God can love those who do not deserve to be loved. Only the sons of God can pray for those who have spitefully used them. Only those filled with the fullness of His Spirit can be gracious both to the good and the evil. Only those who have yielded their will to the will of the Father can experience the Father working His will through them.
Recently I experienced the feelings of my old nature welling up in me and enticing me to become angry with someone who had said something unkind to me. The temptation was great and for a while I was more than willing to comply. But then I began to realize that anger would neither resolve my situation nor soothe my spirit. What I needed to do was to pray about my circumstances and for those who were opposing me. As I began to pray and seek the Lord, He led me to Psalm 103:8 – “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.” The Lord, who abounds in holiness, also abounds in love. Surely as His child, I must strive to do the same.