One season of life I am glad I don’t have to repeat is dating. I still date my wife of course. I’m talking about the kind of dating that happens while you are looking for your spouse. That was no fun. Trying to get to know someone else deeply, with in mind all these standards, expectations, and even wishes you hope to see in someone else is really hard. Especially when you are looking for very specific qualities.
But there are some qualities that are near impossible to find, and really the ones that matter the most, deep down qualities of someone’s “goodness.” Finding someone who is just deep down good according to our high Christian standards is really hard to find, and far too often, once inside the marriage, one realizes, they have not married a person that is good deep down. I’m fortunate, I married just such a person, my wife… perhaps not so fortunate.
At lot of people end up “settling” in relationships that are significantly less fulfilling than they imagined in a relationship, oftentimes because they focused on things that would be insignificant in the long term, and not picky enough on those qualities that would. There are certain things in life we should be picky about and the qualities of those we will build our deepest bond and relationships ought to be our highest priority.
Psalm 145:8-9 has perhaps the most comprehensive list of qualities we ought to seek in our most intimate relationship, and God embodies them all.
The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. 9 The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalm 145:8–9. KJV
The first quality the Lord embodies is grace, a kindness He bestows on us that we don’t come close to deserve. No matter how many times we doubt, sin against Him, turn our back on Him and so on, He always stands waiting to show us His Grace.
Next, His compassion, that is, His ability to look past our situation and circumstances and to minister His love to us. There are some people who embody this trait, but not many. They have the ability to see right through and past dirtiness, disease, and all those things that much of society would “look the other way” at, even and particularly Christians. God embodies compassion on us.
Slow to anger. This is an interesting phrase that I had to really meditate on and think through for a little bit. God gets angry. So anger is sometimes justified, but God isn’t driven to it quickly, it isn’t an impulse, it is a calculated, planned, productive anger, and thus in a controlled manner it is slowly delivered. Such personal control is rarely exhibited in human terms, and usually comes with a lot of life experience, i.e. age!
Compassion and mercy are fairly, closely related, yet the Psalmist mentions it 3 times, and the 3rd time emphasizes such a beautiful trait that the Lord’s mercy extends to all his “labor,” or my favorite His “needlework”. He doesn’t play favorites, He doesn’t have favorites, His mercy and compassion is equally distributed.
Finally, God is just good. It’s who He is. At times, that goodness is hard to understand, but we can trust from all His attributes that when we don’t see how He can be fully good, embodying goodness, His consistency proves His unchanging goodness.
A relationship with God should be the easiest one we choose. He has lived up repeatedly to His reputation. It’s all the other relationships we have that are harder to choose. But we have a model, a pattern to follow so that when we seek those closest of our relationships here on earth, we have the ability to be more picky. And we have a pattern to follow so that we would embody His pattern, becoming an easy choice for someone choosing to be picky.
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes, Jr.
May 16, 2023