“They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness, and shall sing of thy righteousness. The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (Psalm 145:7-9)
“Hey, watch it, Blaine!” Justin grabbed his forehead where Blaine had elbowed him. Ouch! he thought. Why does Blaine always have to muscle his way all over the court? What a ball hog!
“Sorry, Justin. Are you OK?” Blaine stopped dribbling the basketball and came over to where Justin was standing under the net. “It was an accident.”
“Accident, my foot! You just think this game is all about Blaine, don’t you?!” Justin kept dabbing at his forehead, half-hoping there would be blood there – maybe that would teach ol’ Blaine the Ball Hog a lesson. “Blaine, Blaine, it’s all about Blaine. You’ve got a great two-step strategy, you know – hog the ball and knock everyone else off the court!”
“Justin, really. It wasn’t on purpose – I’m just a clutz.” With a shake of his head, Blaine handed Justin the ball and walked off the court to the locker room.
Justin opened his mouth to shout something after him, but he stopped when he realized all the other boys at practice were staring at him. “Well, what?” he asked them, as the locker room door shut behind Blaine. “It’s about time someone told him off.”
Coach Mark walked over and put his hands on Justin’s shoulders. “Justin, take a step back and look at yourself and your reactions. The only one in this gym acting like the game is all about him is you, Justin, acting like it’s all about you.” Coach took the ball out of Justin’s hands and motioned for him to leave. “I think you have some business in the locker room, young man. Namely, an apology for being quick to jump to angry conclusions.”
Like Justin, have you ever struggled with a quick temper? Often, an angry reaction is wrong in several ways. Justin assumed that Blaine was wronging him, when really Blaine had elbowed him accidentally. But through his anger, Justin could not see the truth. So he got a false understanding of Blaine and ended up hurting everyone. Justin would have been wise to first check his own attitude and goals. Maybe Coach was right; maybe Justin was playing like a ball hog and Blaine just got in his way. There can be more than one side to any story.
When we do wrong or get ourselves in trouble, we really do want God and others to be patient with us. We want them to understand where we are coming from, what we really meant by that comment, or how sorry we really are. We really want other people to be “slow to anger” with us, to give us some time to explain or to try to make things right. But how are you when it comes to being “slow to anger” with other people? By his example, Coach Mark showed Justin how to confront someone who is in the wrong. He did not jump to a false conclusion about Justin. He went over and calmly talked instead of shouting out quick and thoughtless accusations. It is not wrong to respond with anger – some anger is good, righteous anger. But how do you get angry? Do you react quickly and thoughtlessly like Justin, or do you show wisdom and restraint like Coach Mark?
Coach Mark was following an example, too. God’s. The LORD is slow to anger, longsuffering in His kindness, abundant in mercies, quick to forgive. Are you?
God is longsuffering and slow to let loose His anger on us.
» Am I quick to lose my temper with people?
» What does a quick temper reveal about my opinions of myself?
» How can I become “slow to anger”?