"The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love."
Psalm 103:8 NIV
When David wrote the 103rd Psalm he poured out praise to God. Read it and notice that David mentions dozens of attributes of the Lord. Each attribute praise-worthy and taken as a whole they paint a picture of one worthy of our honor and devotion.
Couched in the middle of the Psalm is a phrase we might overlook. We might even take for granted that the Lord is slow to anger. I've done enough - haven't you? - that the Lord would be totally justified to take immediate and harsh action to punish me for my wrongs. Yet he is slow to anger.
That makes me think about the way I treat other people. I would rather you not ask my family if I, too, am slow to anger. I'm one of those people who is pretty good at holding back the emotion but when it does surface...well, it's nothing to be proud of.
What is it about God, that I lack, that allows him to be slow to anger? The answer is not just a deficiency for me; I hear it from so many people on a regular basis. God is patient. He is supremely patient. We are not. Some of us may be more patient than others, but we are not supremely patient.
Patience keeps God's anger in check. He's not just stuffing his anger down inside until he will one day explode. He is actually willing to wait and put his anger aside. He's angry with sin. He will punish the sinner. The Bible makes clear that a day is coming when those who do not claim the blood of Jesus for forgiveness of sins will receive the most severe punishment - separation from him. Until then he is patient while people come to him for salvation.
If God can be patient, can I? Can you? Yes, because patience is a character quality that grows from a cultivated relationship with Jesus. See Galatians 5:22-23. Pray that God will grow his character within you.