Slow To Anger:
Our Lord desires all of his followers to be slow to anger. There are a boat load of cross-references in Proverbs that all mention the foolishness of the hot tempered man. These verses exhort us not to be such individuals, nor to even be around them. The thing that blessed me this morning though is the kindness of God towards hot tempered folks. God himself gets angry. He made us to be a certain type of way and understands our anger.
Jonah was a man like you and me. He despised the people of Nineveh. He fled from the Lord because he knew that his God was a merciful and forgiving God. He couldn’t get himself to preach the good news to the city because he was filled with a deep seated anger towards these folks. God knew this about Jonah and leads him through the valley of the shadow of death. Quoted below is chapter 4 of Jonah. I have highlighted a few places that mention the anger of Jonah, and the slowness of God to anger.
But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry. 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. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?” Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city. Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant. But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered. When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.” And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?
We, like Jonah, get angry at things we shouldn’t. Because Jesus took the full force of the wrath of God, the Lord is not quick to come down and rebuke us because of it. He is slow to anger. And because he is slow to anger, he woos us towards love by his kindness. Do you see the way the Lord loves on Jonah even while his servant is angry? Our God is equally patient and kind to us when we sinfully are quick to anger.
The anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. The righteousness of God takes away the anger of man through kindness and love.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. –1 John 4:10–11