The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; ~Psalm 103:8-13 (NIV84)
I’ve had the “slow to anger, abounding in love” part of this passage memorized for a long time. It’s one of those verses that is quoted often and even though I can recite it without trouble I’ve never really given it a whole lot of thought. The few times I did think about the verse, it’s been “Well, this is one of those verses that applies to really bad sinners. I bet those murderers and rapists that come to faith are really glad that God was slow to anger.” Prideful as it is, I’ve thought that God didn’t need to exercise his patience that much with me since I’m not a Really Big Sinner. Well, this past week I was convicted about this line of thinking. God used my own interaction with Little Man to show me how wrong I was.
Little Man is almost entirely potty trained, even at night (yay!). For months now he has been consistent about telling us when he needs to go and making it to the bathroom on time. Then we had one of those days where for some reason he just decided he didn’t want to bother and had several accidents in a row. By the 4th change of clothes I was really frustrated and got angry with him. I took a “mommy timeout” and as I prayed asking God to forgive my overreaction, this verse came to me very clearly. The LORD is slow to anger and abounding in love. Pretty much the opposite of how I had reacted to Little Man.
Two things were very apparent to me. First, I need God’s patience and mercy every bit as much as those Really Big Sinners. Just look at how angry I got with Little Man over something as minor as a potty accident. And that’s a human mother interacting with her child. How much more would our righteous God be justified in becoming angry with my “minor” sins? And yet he is slow to anger. Abounding in love. Ever patient and merciful. Compassionate far beyond understanding.
Secondly, as God shows His love, patience, and mercy to me, so should I show patience and compassion to those in my life. Especially Big Man and my Little Ones. Not to say that I shouldn’t discipline my kids or teach them right and wrong. But I should approach them with compassion, not anger. With patience, not frustration. Allowing Jesus’ abounding love to flow through me to them.
God often uses my kids to teach me things. Sometimes I look are Little Man and Little Lady and just marvel at God’s amazing creativity and how he has blessed me with my precious children. Other times I look at them and see my own human frailty. This week God used Little Man to convict me of sin and teach me something new about His perfect character. And while such growth is seldom painless, it is always, always good.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does God use your kids to teach you?