I am impatient. And this means that I am not angry like God. And since I am not angry like God, I am not a loving person as I ought to be. Patience and slowness to anger is a character trait of God that shows off his mercy. Because God is slow to anger:
- He Disciplines us for our sin – Micah 6:9-16
- He forgives us when we repent – Micah 7:8-9
- He does not give us what we deserve – Micah 7:18a
- He releases his anger by subduing, conquering our sins so that he may show compassion – Micah 7:18b-19
Here again is why Ed Welch has been used by the Lord to temper my anger. Enjoy!
“God looks at our present sins and says, “That’s wrong. What you’re doing does not please me. It offends me and it hurts people.” True patience is not aggression and attack mode. It is not about passivity, indifference, and an uncaring attitude towards evils. Patience simply does not put up with bad things. It is not neutral. It does not accept anything and affirm everything. Patience hates what’s happening, and rolls up its sleeves to redress what is wrong. God is slow to anger – he is patient. The spiritual discipline of patience sees wrong but is slow to anger. When you are slow to anger you are willing to work with wrong over the long haul.
|Exod 34:6||The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,|
|Num 14:18||‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, to the third and • the fourth generation.’|
|Neh 9:17||They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them.|
|Ps 86:15||But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.|
|Ps 103:8||The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.|
|Ps 145:8||The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.|
|Prov 14:29||Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper * exalts folly.|
|Prov 15:18||A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.|
|Joel 2:13||and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.|
|Jonah 4:2||And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country ? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.|
|Nah 1:3||The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means clear the guilty. His way is in whirlwind and storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.|
To say that God is slow to anger is to say that he is patient. In the face of wrong, if we are patient, we see the wrong more clearly. You see the wrong in a deeper truer way than if you reacted immediately with outrage. Patience suffers as well. This is why we are not patient – we don’t want to suffer long the pain of being patient – it hurts to be patient. When Moses describes God as slow to anger it is because he is “long-suffering” (Exodus 34:6; 2 Peter 3:9).
Patience hurts because it causes you to struggle inwardly. You don’t react right away. You don’t have a short fuse. You don’t act the same way though you see and feel the wrong. You put up with difficult people and events, but not out of indifference, resignation, or cowardice. You are driven by a different purpose. Rather than sounding the alarm, calling up the troops, and leaping into hostile action, you carefully take a different approach. You bear with people, rather than counterattacking. You are willing to work slowly to solve things. You are even willing to live for a long time within seemingly unsolvable evils.
But godly patience is powerful – it changes things! Proverbs teaches us the wisdom of patience in the face of wrong.
15:1 – A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
19:11 – Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
25:15 – With patience a ruler may be persuaded, and a soft tongue will break a bone.
This understanding of patience helps us to see that we can be committed to change people and circumstances. Patience does not mean that we are doormats, passively absorbing abuse, even inviting abuse. A doormat psychologically drowns in the sense of powerlessness, victim-hood, cringing fear, self-pity, and self-condemnation. But one who is patient and slow to anger is courageous and clear-minded. It sees the hope of change and longs to repair the wrong. It does not reach the end of its rope like impatience. It does not explode like destructive vengeance. It does not give up in exhaustion, disgust, or despair. The willingness to work over the long haul is merciful anger, waiting and working to see a change in what is wrong and what matters.”