The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.
I have a confession to make. Yes, another one! I have a bit of a short fuse. I’m not proud of that fact, and I really wish I didn’t, but I do. It takes very little for me to get annoyed, and even less for my annoyance to escalate to full-blown anger. Whether it’s people at work irritating me, poor customer service in a shop, or my wife forgetting to put the milk back in the fridge, I often find anger bubbling up inside me. When that happens, I tend to go quiet, because I’m worried about what I might say or do.
Luckily, God is not afflicted with this personality trait. In today’s verse, the psalmist writes that God is “slow to anger.” When you think about it, he has a lot he could get angry about. Day after day, the human race trashes his creation, turn their backs on him, and allow thousands of our fellow brothers and sisters to die of starvation or preventable diseases. This makes failing to put the milk back into the fridge look rather trivial!
God’s default position is not anger, as some would have us believe. God is “slow to anger.” In fact, as this verse reveals, God wants to love first. Our God gracious is gracious and compassionate. He doesn’t want to condemn us, to judge us. He wants to give us every opportunity to turn to him and love him in return. Our God is rich in love; he is overflowing with love, he has more love than he could ever use. Indeed, as John writes in his first letter, God is love (1 John 4:8). It’s probably just as well for our sake that he is; if our God was a God of hatred, if his response to us turning our backs on him was to hate rather than love, we would surely we doomed to eternal damnation.
Give thanks this week that our God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. And why not try to emulate God by making love your default position rather than anger and hatred? If God can still love us after all that we have done, surely we can manage to love all those that we encounter?