Character Wins

Psalm 77:9 Hath God forgotten to be gracious? hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies? Selah.

Selah! There is our hint to take a moment and ponder the Word given.

God doesn’t forget. We do. In our anger we often forget to be gracious. It isn’t easy to be gracious when we are offended. Our natural instinct is to strike back when hurt. We are told to turn the other cheek. Ever been slapped hard across the face? Ever been struck by someone who means to do you harm? Ever been wounded deeply? It is in those moments when character wins.

People are quick to point to the wrath of God because it stands out as something we by nature can most easily associate with. We associate striking back instinctively. Self-preservation is instinctive. In all we do, preservation of self, family, nation and culture are instinctual. It is only natural to see ourselves in God’s wrath.

God is gracious and merciful but witnessing those moments are not as obvious. They are not as obvious in many cases because they are not found in the highlight reels. Spectacle stands out in our mind. Grace is soft and tender, nothing spectacular in grace unless you need it.

Being gracious is harder than being angry. It isn’t natural, it is not instinctual unless it is built into your character. Being conformed into the image of Christ is all about building character. Having all this word knowledge and understanding how you are expected to act gets tossed right out the window at the first blow.

Knowledge is easy. Building character is difficult. This new creature we are in Christ has to overcome so much of our natural instincts. It takes time to build character and that is done through experiencing some things that are not necessarily pleasant.

Acts 9: 16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.

Christian is not so much name as it is character!


Psalm 141:5a Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. ESV

This is a prayer of acceptance. It is not an invitation to abuse a brother in the Lord.

These words were uttered by David as submission to his Holy God. These words were a commitment of attitude, a setting his mind right, to secure a good conscience. Because these words are between David and his God, we have no part in it.

There are some who will use these words to become the righteous right hand of the Lord. They do so in error and do so to the harm of others and themselves. A righteous indignation is still an indignation. Indignation is defined as anger or annoyance provoked by what is perceived as unfair treatment. Would a righteous man strike out in anger?

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!

Why do men choose to act upon verse 5 with indignation yet ignore the words of verse 3? Why not take the whole counsel of God? Does a vessel dictate to his creator what gets poured into himself? Do we hold mercy and grace close to ourselves because it makes us feel like clean vessels? Or do we pour it out to the benefit of all?

If our attitudes do not match our character, what does that say about our character? If our actions are driven by attitudes, we would do well to have an attitude of submission like David.