Just about everyone has seen or experienced it. The holy and terrible anger of the offended motorist.
You know the scene. Traffic is bad. There has been an accident 3 miles ahead and all the freeways and side streets are stopped. Everyone is late, it’s mid summer and crazy hot already, and the anger is rising. People start hitting their horns for no reason (like that is going to help move the accident 3 miles away), yelling at cars in front, riding on other peoples tailgates and generally making a scene.
And then someone changes lanes.
The spot that they left is filled instantly with a gleeful (and maybe even giggling) motorist who feels like they just made a mile on the other cars. But woe to that motorist, for someone else feels like they just lost a mile! The hate filled anger, the wrath of the motorist who has been ‘cut off’ is a terrible sight to behold.
How quickly we let our emotions go out of control! Reason goes out the window, and we become creatures of our anger, spitting fireballs at any and all who would dare cross our path…
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and his mercy is over all that he has made.
(Psalm 145:8-9 ESV)
Can you imagine what life would be like if God was like some of us in traffic? Not one of us would survive.
Now picture this scene.
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.
(Luke 9:51-53; Luke 9:54-56 ESV)
The disciples, now feeling they are no longer on the receiving end of God’s wrath, show their true feelings when they feel like they are righteous and just. Despite Jesus having shown them mercy, they are not yet willing to show that mercy to others. I reminds me of the Queen in Alice in Wonderland…
“Off with her head!”
Rarely do any of us question God’s mercy toward us. We know that we have sinned, we know that we have done the wrong thing – and often continue to do so. But we praise and thank God for His mercy towards us. We praise and thank God that He is ‘slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love‘.
So there are two takeaways from this verse in Psalm 145 today.
Firstly, we are to praise God that He is good, that He is slow to anger, that He does abound in steadfast love to all of creation. We are not just take God for granted by coming before him with our to do and wish list for the day – but to praise Him for His good works. To meditate on the good things He has done for us, the love He has shown us by sending His Son in our place, to suffer and die on a cross, so that we might be right before Him.
And once we learn the mercy that has been shown to us by God, we need to learn to be like Him – and show mercy to others. Don’t be like the disciples who thought ‘we are on God’s side, so it is right to condemn these sinners’, but recognize just as God was slow to anger with us, He is showing His grace to others as well, that they might come to know Him.
So today, meditate on God’s love towards you. On his steadfast love and grace, that gave you the chance to become a child of God. Then take that love and mercy and show it to another. It could be as simple as letting people in front of you on the freeway, or forgiving someone who angers you. Just as with God’s goodness, if we understood how much mercy and love God has for us, we couldn’t help but show it to the rest of the world!